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NSF says Arecibo telescope will be dismantled

19 Nov 2020, 17:54 UTC
NSF says  Arecibo telescope will be dismantled
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View larger. | Arecibo Observatory’s 305-meter telescope in November of 2020. Image via NSF.
The following is a statement from the U.S. National Science Foundation, issued November 19, 2020:
Following a review of engineering assessments that found damage to the Arecibo Observatory cannot be stabilized without risk to construction workers and staff at the facility, the U.S. National Science Foundation will begin plans to decommission the 305-meter telescope, which for 57 years has served as a world-class resource for radio astronomy, planetary, solar system and geospace research.
The decision comes after NSF evaluated multiple assessments by independent engineering companies that found the telescope structure is in danger of a catastrophic failure and its cables may no longer be capable of carrying the loads they were designed to support. Furthermore, several assessments stated that any attempts at repairs could put workers in potentially life-threatening danger. Even in the event of repairs going forward, engineers found that the structure would likely present long-term stability issues.
‘NSF prioritizes the safety of workers, Arecibo Observatory’s staff and visitors, which makes this decision necessary, although unfortunate,’ said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. ‘For nearly six decades, the Arecibo Observatory has served as a beacon for breakthrough ...

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