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Repairing The Destroyed Arecibo Observatory Could Reach $50 Million

by : Saman Javed on : 09 Mar 2021 19:02
Repairing The Destroyed Arecibo Observatory Could Reach $50 MillionPA

It will cost up to $50 million to repair the damage caused by the collapse of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

The giant telescope collapsed in December 2020 after two snapped cables caused damage to the 1,000ft wide reflector dish.

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Scientists and engineers had expressed fears that the receiver platform suspended above the dish would collapse shortly before it crashed onto the reflector below.

Following the incident, the National Science Foundation was commissioned to conduct an analysis of the cause of the collapse and the extent of the damage.

In its report, which was published this week, the NSF said the initial findings indicate that both the platform and the dome are a ‘complete loss for scientific purposes’.

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‘A large number of reflector panels were damaged when the platform crashed through them to the ground, breaking many of the reflector support cables that held up the main dish of the telescope,’ the report said.

The report did not offer a concrete cause for the crash, stating that forensic evaluation to understand the causes of the collapse is ongoing.

The NSF said ‘all scientific infrastructure that can be utilised is being saved’. It said it has commissioned a company specialising in disaster cleanup, which is working to clear debris and provide safe access to areas where there are potential environmental impacts.

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‘This cost estimate will be further refined in the coming months, but preliminary analysis indicates cleanup costs will be in the range of $30–$50 million,’ the foundation said.

Also in its analysis, the foundation said the failure of the second cable was especially troubling as ‘this cable broke under conditions that should have been well within its support capabilities, indicating that it, along with the remaining main cables, may have been weaker than expected’.

The NSF has been in contact with the Puerto Rico State Historic Preservation Office and the Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to consult on the protection and preservation of historically important elements from the structures.

It said that any objects of potential scientific, cultural, or historic value that need to be preserved will be removed and could go on display at the observatory, or at a museum.

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The Arecibo Observatory was built in the 1960s as part of a Cold War-era US defence project, initially designed to study the Earth’s atmosphere. Before the collapse, it had been used to track asteroids, study stars as well as serving as a popular tourist attraction.

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Topics: News, Astronomy, collapse, Now, Space