A little over two weeks ago we reported that the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico would be decommissioned, but this week tragedy struck.
The 305-meter telescope which was suspended above the dish came crashing to the Earth on Tuesday morning damaging the dish and the surrounding facilities.
“We are saddened by this situation but thankful that no one was hurt,” US National Science Foundation (NSF) director, Sethuraman Panchanathan said in a statement.
“When engineers advised NSF that the structure was unstable and presented a danger to work teams and Arecibo staff, we took their warnings seriously and continued to emphasize the importance of safety for everyone involved. Our focus is now on assessing the damage, finding ways to restore operations at other parts of the observatory, and working to continue supporting the scientific community, and the people of Puerto Rico,” the director added.
While an investigation into the incident is currently taking place, initial observations suggest that three of the three sections of the telescope’s support structures broke off.
With those sections broken, the 900-ton telescope came crashing to the ground.
The Arecibo Observatory’s learning centre also sustained “significant damage from falling cables” the NSF reported.
While the observatory was set to be decommissioned due to safety concerns it is sad to see a facility that has helped humanity so much just fall to pieces.