November 19, 2020 at 2:15 pm #26835ZLothModerator
From The Verge:
Facing collapse, the famed Arecibo Observatory will be demolished
The failure of two main cables sealed the observatory’s fate
The world-famous Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, known for helping scientists peer into deep space and listen for distant radio waves, is set to be decommissioned and demolished after engineers concluded that the facility’s structure is at risk of a collapse. While teams will try to salvage some parts of the observatory, the decommission will bring an end to the popular 57-year-old telescope, which has been featured in numerous films and television shows.
The decision comes after two major cables failed at the facility within the last few months, causing significant damage to the observatory. The National Science Foundation (NSF), which oversees Arecibo, assessed the impact of the cable breaks and found that the facility’s other cables could also fail soon. If some of the remaining cables break, engineers fear that the 900-ton suspended platform above the facility could come crashing down on Arecibo’s iconic 1,000-foot-wide dish. It’s also possible that three surrounding towers, which stand at more than 300 feet tall, could topple over in any direction, potentially hitting the visitor’s center or other important nearby buildings.
“All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.” —IBM Manual, 1925November 19, 2020 at 3:56 pm #26836ubikuberallesModerator
That is sad news indeed. Even sadder (to me, anyway) is that I was going to post the same story here and Zloth beat me by a good hour.
Anyway, I hope they will come up with something new to replace that dish. Be a darn shame if they didn’t.
Also, I hope they can demolish it before it collapses and injures people. It’ll be weeks before they start. That’s scarey.November 20, 2020 at 10:14 pm #26843EarlKeymaster
I have friends who are actual astronomers who had hoped to make use of Arecibo’s unique capabilities in the future, who are completely devastated by this news.
It saddens me too – to me, this was kind of an unofficial eighth wonder of the world that I’d been reading about since I was a little kid. I was always fascinated by the sending of the Arecibo message in the early ’70s, just the idea of it, even if as a practical exercise it was kind of like throwing a bottle containing a message as hard as you can and hoping there’ll be an ocean there for it to land in.
December 25, 2020 at 11:07 am #26892ZLothModerator
From Ars Technica:
NSF releases footage from the moment Arecibo’s cables failed
Two different cameras, with one capturing a close-up of the cables snapping.
(On December 3rd), the National Science Foundation released video taken at the moment the Arecibo Radio Observatory’s cables failed, allowing its massive instrument platform to crash into the dish below. In describing the videos, the NSF also talked a bit about the monitoring program that had put the cameras in place, ideas it had been pursuing for stabilizing the structure pre-collapse, and prospects for building something new at the site.
A quick recap of the collapse: the Arecibo dish was designed to reflect incoming radio radiation to collectors that hung from a massive, 900-ton instrument package that was suspended above it. The suspension system was supported by three reinforced concrete towers that held cables that were anchored farther from the dish, looped over the towers, and then continued on to the platform itself. Failure of these cables eventually led to the platform dropping into the dish below it.
“All parts should go together without forcing. You must remember that the parts you are reassembling were disassembled by you. Therefore, if you can’t get them together again, there must be a reason. By all means, do not use a hammer.” —IBM Manual, 1925December 27, 2020 at 6:26 pm #26901EarlKeymaster
I had turned this into a GIF for the related timeline entry a little while back.
I did a little bit of contextual editing between the two camera shots so you have an idea of cause and effect.
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