In DepthAstronomy

Arecibo radio telescope to be decommissioned

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Science  27 Nov 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6520, pp. 1018-1019
DOI: 10.1126/science.370.6520.1018

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Summary

Following cable breaks that have brought the 57-year-old facility to the brink of collapse, the Arecibo Observatory will be demolished, officials at the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced on 19 November. The giant radio dish saw plenty of fame over the years. It was the first to detect evidence for gravitational waves, the first to peer through Venus's thick clouds, and the first to detect exoplanets. NSF officials says Arecibo is now so fragile that attempting repairs would put staff and workers in danger. The agency wants to preserve other instruments at the site, as well as the popular visitor's center. But they could be damaged if the 900-ton instrument platform comes crashing down. Over the next few weeks, engineers will plan for a controlled dismantling beginning in the spring, which will likely involve an explosive release of the platform from its cables.

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