Famous alien-hunting telescope shut down to avoid ‘catastrophic failure’

Scientists have misplaced considered one of their maximum tough gear for searching asteroids, planets and alien lifestyles after injury compelled Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory to close down for excellent.

The huge facility is likely one of the greatest single-dish radio telescopes on the earth and has performed a big position in clinical discoveries over greater than 5 many years.

It additionally performed primary roles within the finale of GoldenEye, the 1995 James Bond movie a couple of killer satellite tv for pc, and within the alien-hunting film Touch.

The U.S. Nationwide Science Basis (NSF) introduced on Thursday that it could start decommissioning the 305 metre-wide telescope after an review discovered that it used to be teetering at the breaking point.

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“This choice isn’t a very easy one for NSF to make, however the protection of folks is our primary precedence,” stated Sean Jones, the company’s assistant director for the Mathematical and Bodily Sciences Directorate. “We know the way a lot Arecibo method to this neighborhood and to Puerto Rico.”

The power is composed of a large telescope bowl within the Arecibo woodland, with an 816-tonne reflector dish suspended 137 metres above it through a chain of cables.


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The telescope got here on-line in 1963 and has been a useful instrument for astronomers all over the world. It’s been used to locate mysterious radio alerts, far-off planets and close-approaching asteroids, together with a large one who zipped previous Earth in April.

It additionally helped uncover the near-Earth asteroid Bennu in 1999, which lead the way for NASA to land a spacecraft at the asteroid closing month.

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Then again, many years of damage and tear seem to have stuck up with it.

A cable snapped at the dish in August, tearing a 30.Five-metre hollow within the reflector dish and inflicting injury to a dome. Then, on Nov. 6, one of the most dish’s major cables snapped, sparking fears that the entire construction would possibly come down.

The NSF says it commissioned a number of engineering tests they usually all got here again with the similar end result: “The telescope construction is in peril of a catastrophic failure and its cables might now not have the ability to sporting the lots they had been designed to strengthen.”

The Arecibo Observatory is shown with a large hole in its telescope dish in November 2020.

The Arecibo Observatory is proven with a big hollow in its telescope dish in November 2020.


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The tests additionally discovered that repairing the ones cables would possibly put staff in life-threatening threat, and that the construction itself may not be strong for for much longer.

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The NSF says it plans to decommission the telescope, however it’s going to attempt to keep different portions of the observatory for long run analysis and academic functions.

Scientists, beginner astronomers and Puerto Ricans mourned the scoop on social media, the place they lamented the lack of a cornerstone in area analysis.

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The NSF says it’s going to take the dish aside with care in order that it doesn’t cave in on the remainder of the ability.

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With information from Reuters




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