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Friday, December 4, 2020

The Terrible Collapse of the Arecibo Dish: Climate Change, Hurricane Maria, and Funding Cuts. Also: China's New Dish

From https://www.thewrap.com/watch-crazy-footage-of-the-arecibo-observatory-collapse-goldeneye-video/  :

"Alas, over the 2010s it was battered by a series of severe, climate change-linked tropical storms and hurricanes, culminating in terrible damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Unfortunately the 2016 election led to a government unwilling to fund repairs. Though new sources of funding were cobbled together late in 2018, in late Nov. 2020 it was determined there was no way to safely repair the telescope and the National Science Foundation announced it would be decommissioned.

The decommissioning was supposed to proceed after NSF determined the safest possible method, but physics had other plans. So it is that on Dec. 4, the whole thing up and collapsed with almost no warning."

More info (from NSF): 


Here is a good 2017 article that discusses the electronic and mechanical arrangements at Arecibo, and the budget cuts it was facing.  The article seems to almost predict the collapse: 


Here is a comment from someone who worked there and heard the collapse: 

Jonathan Friedman, who worked for 26 years as a senior research associate at the observatory and still lives near it, told the Associated Press news agency of the moment the telescope collapsed on Tuesday.

"It sounded like a rumble. I knew exactly what it was," he said. "I was screaming. Personally, I was out of control... I don't have words to express it. It's a very deep, terrible feeling."  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55147973?fbclid=IwAR3RuwzTfJmqInrOOFB-nctknDzyB_VSr_qdNrjg9LbbxUnAbynKBv9stPQ

Here is an interesting WIKIpedia article on China's FAST dish, with comparisons to Arecibo: 


Comparison of the Arecibo Telescope (top) and FAST (bottom) dishes at the same scale

Adios Arecibo

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