Yesterday on the Twitter profile of the American National Science Foundation (NSF), to which the Arecibo Observatory belongs, there was a sad entry about another disaster at the famous facility. This time, a 900-ton platform with a receiver fell onto the canopy of the radio telescope, which hung 150 meters on it. The destruction is so extensive that there is no hope of rebuilding this historic building.
It all started at the end of August this year. Then one of the largest radio telescopes in the world had a serious failure. One of the cables supporting the metal platform broke off and fell onto the radio telescope's canopy, causing serious damage over an area of 30 meters. As if that was not enough, the platform serving as access to the dome was also damaged.
Engineers recently carried out a large-scale inspection of the facility. It turned out that the damage was extremely serious. Cables snapped at only 60 percent of their maximum stress, meaning the rest could snap at any moment as well. We did not have to wait long for this vision to materialize.
The information about Arecibo's decommissioning is very sad news for the SETI project, i.e. the alien search initiative, and for all those who believe that somewhere in the abyss of space, alien civilizations await our contact.
Meanwhile, the process of transferring astronomical data to the cloud has already started, and scientists working on the projects will be able to implement them planetwatching other institutions. The role of Arecibo will now be taken over by the largest radio telescope in the world, the Chinese FAST. Several projects are currently underway there to detect and analyze the secret sources of high-speed radio flashes (FRB).