The Arecibo Space Telescope has been instrumental in the science and study of astronomy, human eyes in the sky close after 57 years of service. It has been instrumental in finding the secrets of the cosmos.
It is one of the biggest US space telescopes in the heart of the Puerto Rican jungle that is damaged greatly. The loss of Arecibo will be a blow to efforts in uncovering more research to the natures of the cosmos, reported The Guardian.
Beginning August, the operation of the observatory in Arecibo was stopped due to serious accidents that affected its parabolic structure. The reflector dish (parabolic structure) was damaged when one of the support cables got loose from its socket. It struck the dish structure that made a large 30-meter (100-ft) crack, which is significant since the telescope is a 305m-wide (1,000ft) parabolic reflector.
Earlier another cable did break loose causing another tear in the parabolic dish. Worse, more support cables were damaged as a result. This made problems for engineers trying to find a way to keep the telescope working. This structural damage has compromised the telescope's superstructure and functions. Considering a 1000 feet radius makes it one of the biggest man-made instruments ever constructed.
Several movies used the Arecibo as its backdrop, like James Bond movie GoldenEye, and Contact starring Jodie Foster, which were blockbusters. The US National Science Foundation (NSF), that is an independent government agency to check the status of the instrument.
Sean Jones, the assistant director of the mathematical and physical sciences directorate at NSF made a statement concerning the telescope and its future. He said the damage is substantial and the thousand-foot-long telescope is not safe. It is a danger to work for crews and staff.
In the end, he said the damage incurred on the structure will stop operations with controlled decommissioning. The famous telescope will be retired after more than 50 years in service to astronomical science. To date, the engineers on-site cannot explain why the cable de-coupled from its harness, noted an NSF representative.
Accomplishments of the Arecibo Space Telescope
The observatory is an engineering marvel for its time, a thousand-foot parabolic reflector that weighs an amazing 816-tonnes. Another fact is that structure is hanging off with cable support at 137-meters off the ground in the tropical rainforest of Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
As an astronomical instrument that has been used by scientists for five decades. In that time it has been used for planetary analysis, searching for planet killers sized space rocks, and used to look for intelligent life in the cosmos.
It enabled the detection of the near-earth-objects (NEOs) like the asteroid Bennu in 1999. NASA used its data to design and direct a space probe to voyage to the otherworldly visitor. The Bennu mission got dirt to sample about 20-years later. It will be on its way back to its homeworld to be examined on earth.
One of the reasons for the abandonment of the Arecibo Space Telescope is that a study by the University of Central Florida gave this conclusion. If any or more of the support cables break, the huge 816-ton structure will collapse. Teams will be sent out to destroy the huge structure with controlled explosions.
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