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  • Arecibo Observatory Tower collapse

    Posted on Susan Bradley Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody blog Arecibo Observatory Tower collapse

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      • #2316933
        Susan Bradley

        Off topic post for the days – wow what a view of when the radio observatory collapsed.
        [See the full post at: Arecibo Observatory Tower collapse]

        Susan Bradley Patch Lady

        7 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2316945
        AskWoody Plus

        That was an absolute TRAGEDY to astronomy in general and to radio astronomy in particular. I remember their using that dish during the filming of “Contact” (starring Jody Foster).  I can 0nly hope that the overall damage was minimal and that the dish can be restored to normal operation soon.  //Steve//

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        • #2316963

          There was an announcement something like a couple of weeks ago that it was in bad shape and too dangerous to fix, so it was going to be torn down. Unless they changed their minds, I don’t believe it will be restored to normal operation at all.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.20.5 User Edition)

          4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2316968
        AskWoody Lounger

        Apparently this final collapse & potential decommissioning were previously anticipated after an auxiliary support cable detached in Aug 2020 followed up by another main cable break on Nov 6th.

        An auxiliary cable came loose from a socket on one of the towers in August, creating a 100-foot gash in the dish. Engineers were assessing and working on a plan to repair the damage when another main cable on the tower broke on November 6.

        The entire CNN news article about planned decommissioning can be found here.

        NSF.Gov news release 20-010 about the decommissioning plan can be found here.

        Wonder if the drone being in the exact right place at the exact right time to capture the remaining main cable breakage was part of the decommissioning plan … hum 🤔

        Win7 - PRO & Ultimate, x64 & x86
        Win8.1 - PRO, x64 & x86
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      • #2316990
        AskWoody Plus

        The Arecibo disaster is one to be felt deeply by many, particularly those closely attached to it through their research projects. The loss of this huge eye looking out into the Universe is surely a serious loss for the University of Central Florida, that has been responsible for its operation. But this is by no means the end of the detailed astronomical observation of Deep Space.

        These days, rather than building very large telescopes, such as Arecibo’s, the technology enabling several smaller telescopes to be used together as if they were a much larger one by adding up interferometrically their images of distant objects, is the way observational astronomy seems to be going. There is still a role to be played by very large single telescopes, as one recently commissioned in China, with a similar-looking dish to, but larger than Arecibo’s, illustrates this point. Nevertheless, most of the largest telescopes being planned are multi-telescope arrays. For example, the two Square Kilometer Array telescopes, one in South Africa and one in Australia and designed, eventually, to work together, with the former already commissioned. Each consists of literally one square kilometer covered with small telescopes, potentially being, singly or combined, the most powerful of radio telescopes ever built:

        Another combination of several radio telescopes using the very-long-baseline approach (VLBI) was used recently to obtain the first image of a black hole:

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

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      • #2317026
        Michael Austin
        AskWoody Lounger

        Drag. I used to parse SETI@home data packets from Arecibo. May it rest in (recycled) pieces.

        Finance, social and tech founder. Co-founder of a global, gamified, crowd-sourced ESG advertising platform, and managing director of new crowd sourced games, both in pre-release development. My planet-wide talk show for people craving new stories by which to live is Casual Saints.
      • #2317045

        As an amateur astronomer  myself, this came as an awful blow.* Well, there is an effort coming out to try and pry some dough out of the new administration to stabilize it and hopefully build a new one: there’s a page on the white house website you can sign the petition, at least:

        We only need 32K more sigs until goal and/or/12/21, people; get a move on!

        “It ain’t over until it’s over!” -Yogi Berra

        (*Yeah, I’m one of the severe cases-I built my own 8″ Dobsonian/Newtonian. With the club I belonged to, we used to hold “Star Parties” at educational institutions, and out in the frozen/boiling wastes every month until I got too old.)

        Win7 Pro SP1 64-bit ESU, Dell Latitude E6330, Intel CORE i5 "Ivy Bridge", Group "Patch List", Multiple Air-Gapped backup drives in different locations, "Don't auto-check for updates-Full Manual Mode." Linux Mint Greenhorn
        "A committee is the only known form of life that can have least four legs and no brain."

        -Robert Heinlein

      • #2317129
        AskWoody Plus

        According to what I read this telescope was built around 1957-59 when planet Earth was a nicer place weatherwise.  It has managed to make it into the 21st century, but it probably was not designed to withstand multiple Category 5 hurricanes, plus lack of needed funding.

        If they build another one, it had better be built to withstand current day “weather” conditions, or build it someplace where it’s safer, if there is such a place anymore.

        • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by Charlie.
        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2317214
        AskWoody Plus

        The decision of whether to rebuild or not the Arecibo telescope should best be left, as it is usually the case, to experts to work out first a series of possible ways to deal with this important loss to astronomy in order to put together, after a comprehensive consultation with all concerned, a proposal for governmental or private action (or both, including, of course, funding), that might or might not have the rebuilding of the Arecibo instrument among the proposed options. As a hypothetical example, building at a location in the Northern Hemisphere something similar to the Square Kilometer Array located in the  Southern Hemisphere, that I described previously in this thread, could conceivably be found to be preferable — or not — to rebuilding Arecibo, among other choices, depending of what the study and discussion leading to the proposal might reveal.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2317371

        I guess I was reacting out of the “heat of the moment” in this case, sorry.  You’re right, the decision needs to be ultimately left to the experts.  I just hope it doesn’t get politicised or anything like that — you know how sometimes a funding request that doesn’t specifically benefit “constituents” (meaning pork-barrel funding) gets left by the wayside.

        It looks as though rebuilding Arecibo’s main dish will be more than I thought.  TechLife News magazine has a photo spread on the dish, with photos from immediately before and after the cable failure.  It seems the dish has been allowed to deteriorate far more than I ever thought it had.  A lot of panels in the reflector are rusted or even outright missing!  And with the receiver crashing into the remaining panels, repair is more on the order of a replacement of the bulk of the dish rather than just a repair job.  Still, since nature has provided such a location, it would be a shame not to consider continuing to take advantage of it.

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