Sunday, January 17, 2021

Huge Telescope Collapses in Puerto Rico

An enormous telescope called The Arecibo Observatory, fell in Puerto Rico yesterday.  N The telescope had a 900-ton received platform which fell onto the reflector dish which was more than 400 feet below.

Ada Monzon, a meteorologist in Puerto Rico, broke into tears on TV as she was delivering the news. She stated; “I have to inform you, with my heart in hand, that the Arecibo Observatory collapsed. We made every attempt to save it”.

The telescope was built in the 1960’s with money from the Department of Defense due to a push on developing anti-ballistic missile defenses. It had endured hurricanes, tropical humidity and earthquakes. It had been used to track asteroids, conduct research which led to a Nobel Prize, and helped determined if a planet was habitable. It was also a tourist attraction with about 90,000 visitors a year.

The Arecibo Observatory had been previously damaged back in August when an auxiliary cable snapped and caused a 100-foot gash on the 1,000-foot-wide reflector dish. In early November, a main cable also broke. Therefore, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) had announced that the Arecibo Observatory would be closed.

The news shocked many scientists since this telescope was the largest one in the world. Dr. Jonathan Friedman, a scientist who worked in the Arecibo Observatory said; “At first, I thought it was one of the earthquakes that we felt in January. It sounded like a train or an avalanche. The rumble lasted a few seconds”.

Deborah Martorell, a meteorologist, who visited the Observatory the day before it collapsed stated that “There is a lot of anger in the scientific community because it could have been avoided. The bureaucracy and waiting around for NSF destroyed the platform of the Arecibo Observatory. It is very difficult to think that I was there and saw how beautiful it was. It was a jewel of science. It is very difficult to believe.”

Abel Mendez, a physics, and astrobiology professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo who used the telescope for research, stated “The world without the observatory loses, but Puerto Rico loses even more.”