A second support cable at the Arecibo Observatory, seen here in a 2019 file photo, snapped 6 November, causing additional damage to the radio telescope’s huge reflector. The observatory has been off line since a cable slipped out of its socket in August, falling onto the reflector and damaging multiple panels. Image: University of Central Florida
A main cable that supports the Arecibo Observatory broke Friday at 7:39 p.m. Puerto Rico time.
Unlike the auxiliary cable that failed at the same facility on 10 August, this main cable did not slip out of its socket. It broke and fell onto the reflector dish below, causing additional damage to the dish and other nearby cables. Both cables were connected to the same support tower. No one was hurt, and engineers are already working to determine the best way to stabilize the structure.
A safety zone has been set up around the dish out of an abundance of caution and only personnel needed to respond to the incident are allowed onsite.
Officials haven’t determined why the main cable broke, but they suspect it is related to the extra load the remaining cables have been carrying since August. A monitoring team has been ...