FSCK - Of course it happens in 2020 - Arecibo

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This instrument is a national treasure - from the National Science Foundation:

NSF begins planning for decommissioning of Arecibo Observatory’s 305-meter telescope due to safety concerns
Following a review of engineering assessments that found damage to the Arecibo Observatory cannot be stabilized without risk to construction workers and staff at the facility, the U.S. National Science Foundation will begin plans to decommission the 305-meter telescope, which for 57 years has served as a world-class resource for radio astronomy, planetary, solar system and geospace research.

The decision comes after NSF evaluated multiple assessments by independent engineering companies that found the telescope structure is in danger of a catastrophic failure and its cables may no longer be capable of carrying the loads they were designed to support. Furthermore, several assessments stated that any attempts at repairs could put workers in potentially life-threatening danger. Even in the event of repairs going forward, engineers found that the structure would likely present long-term stability issues.

"NSF prioritizes the safety of workers, Arecibo Observatory’s staff and visitors, which makes this decision necessary, although unfortunate," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "For nearly six decades, the Arecibo Observatory has served as a beacon for breakthrough science and what a partnership with a community can look like. While this is a profound change, we will be looking for ways to assist the scientific community and maintain that strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico."

This is bad news.  Yes, it is an old instrument BUT it has been upgraded and is still doing solid science up until the hurricane. Yes, the Chinese have a 500 meter radio telescope that is larger BUT the Arecibo is one of the only ones that can transmit as well as receive. Its primary task these days is acting like a radar set and searching for near-Earth objects that have a potential for crashing to Earth and/or hitting our satellites.

It has already been built, the money has already been spent.  The cost to repair is minimal. To lose this would be tragic.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on November 19, 2020 10:44 AM.

And for some sad news - California was the previous entry in this blog.

This is big - press conference this morning is the next entry in this blog.

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