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Arecibo Radio Telescope: Video from the moment of its collapse

End of an era for the famous Arecibo radio telescope, after its collapse.

Arecibo radio telescope
Arecibo Radio Telescope: Video from the moment of its collapse

Today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) was released video pulled as the Arecibo Observatory cables in Puerto Rico collapsed, leaving the huge platform weighing 900 tons to fall and smash the disc of Arecibo. Describing the videos, NSF also talked about the surveillance program and the placement of the cameras, its ideas for stabilizing the structure before the collapse, and the prospects for a new construction in this part.

The Arecibo Radio Telescope was one of the most powerful telescopes on the planet and was able to map asteroids and planets and reveal the secrets of the ionosphere during its 57 years of operation.

In recent months, they were created problems with two central cables, which caused great damage to the construction. NSF, which oversees the Arecibo radio telescope, said there was a risk of other cables being cut, so engineers suggested demolishing it.

Video from the moment of the collapse

The video from the moment of the crash comes from one system monitoring set to application after damage to the cables. Because there was a risk of other cables "breaking", NSF had banned the presence of people there and in the area around the three perimeter towers that supported the cables. So, since the staff could not approach to check the cables, they were used drones, which also recorded the moment of the collapse. In addition, one was placed camera, who was watching her platform and one of the support towers.

As you can see in the video above, the drone was examining the area and specifically the tower that had supported one of the main cables that had been cut earlier. Individual cables began to "break" and in a few seconds the whole construction collapsed.

The video from the camera shows how the problem with the cables of one tower affected the rest system. As one of the three support towers fell, the platform fell toward the disk between the other two towers.

Despite this huge disaster, NSF's decision to ban staff in the area around the towers was a lifesaver, as there were no injuries.

Η Ashley Zauderer, NSF program manager for Arecibo, described some of the ideas that NSF had when the cable problems first arose and the risk of collapse was realized. The ideas were enough. One of them was to remove some weight from the construction. However, this would require a helicopter and the presence of personnel on the platform, which was considered dangerous.

Arecibo Radio Telescope: Video from the moment of its collapse

While these designs were being evaluated, telescope operators began monitoring the cables using drones. Last weekend, Zauderer said the cameras showed that more and more cables were in trouble, and hinted that the collapse was inevitable.

An engineer evaluating the ideas for managing the Arecibo telescope said that "the chances of success were not so high". According to the engineer, when such work and repairs are attempted, the structure in danger is usually in relatively good condition, which was not the case with the Arecibo radio telescope.

The question of what will happen to this place can not be easily answered, according to him Ralph Gaume, Director of NSF Astronomy. Gaume said that while funds had been allocated for the stabilization and possible repair of the observatory (cables had been ordered to replace the damaged ones), the NSF could not simply give money to something new without congressional approval. Also, the funds are not enough for a new construction.

Source: Ars Technica

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