Arecibo radio telescope, an icon of astronomy, is lost

Arecibo radio telescope, an icon of astronomy, is lost

The National Science Foundation (NSF) will decommission Arecibo Observatory‘s massive radio dish after damage has made the facility too dangerous to repair, the agency announced today (Nov. 19).

The announcement came as scientists awaited a verdict about the fate of the iconic observatory after damage to the complex cabling supporting a 900-ton science platform suspended over the dish. In August, a cable slipped out of its socket, but engineers evaluating the situation deemed it stable; earlier this month, a second cable unexpectedly snapped, leaving Arecibo’s fate much more perilous. After considering three separate engineering reports, the NSF, which owns the property, has decided the facility is unstable enough that there is no way to repair the damage that does not put personnel at undue risk.

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