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Footage Captures Exact Moment The Arecibo Telescope Collapsed

by : Hannah Smith on : 04 Dec 2020 10:27
Footage Captures Exact Moment The Arecibo Telescope CollapsedArecibo Observatory/National Science Foundation

Earlier this week, the Arecibo Observatory collapsed, destroying an iconic and important landmark for the scientific community. Now, a new video has shown the exact moment of the catastrophe.

Posted by the National Science Foundation, videos shot from two angles show how the observatory’s 900-ton platform, suspended above the telescope, crashed more than 450 metres, destroying the dish below.

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The first angle, shot from a camera attached to one of the observatory’s control towers, shows one of the remaining cables supporting the platform suddenly snapping, causing the platform to fall dramatically, disappearing into the surrounding jungle and taking at least one of the other control towers with it. While this angle doesn’t show the moment of impact, you can hear a deafening crash, followed by massive cloud of smoke, dust and debris rising up from the trees.

Luckily for engineers trying to understand the cause of the crash, there also happened to be a drone shooting footage of the cable at the exact moment it snapped, and this second angle shows the full scale of the damage. The drone somehow managed to stay out of harms way to show the giant platform swinging into the telescope, and also captured the falling cables ripping giant cracks in the telescope’s 1,000ft-wide dish.

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The Arecibo Observatory was closed earlier this year after two other cables snapped, with engineers warning that an event like this was possible. The NSF was working on a plan to decommission the Observatory through a controlled demolition, but in the end, it was too late to stop the platform from collapsing of its own accord. Luckily, the collapse happened early in the morning in Puerto Rico, and the NSF confirmed that no one was injured.

Scientists and amateur astronomers across the world have been mourning the loss of the observatory, which also made appearances in films including Contact and GoldenEye. One posted on Twitter that the collapse was ‘heartbreaking’, while another called it a ‘end of an era.’

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Mashable
  1. Mashable

    Exact moment of major Arecibo telescope collapse captured on video