Following the collapse of the Arecibo radio telescope in 2020, the US National Science Foundation has announced that it has no plans to rebuild it.
The Arecibo radio telescope , a famous scientific facility located in Puerto Rico , will end up being dismantled by the United States government and in its place an educational center dedicated to science, technology and mathematics will be erected. The US National Science Foundation confirmed that it will not rebuild the structure that collapsed in 2020 due to the breakage of a main cable.
The organization requested a US$5 million budget from the US government for the construction of this new educational center in the area where the radio telescope once stood . According to the details shared by the Foundation, the inauguration of this new building would be scheduled for 2023.
The definitive goodbye to the Arecibo radio telescope
The US National Science Foundation pointed out that the budget requested from the government does not include additional support for the facilities that are still in use in Arecibo, which include an auxiliary radio telescope of 12 meters in diameter and a LIDAR that is used for the study of the upper layers of the atmosphere and the terrestrial ionosphere as well as for meteorological studies.
To make this decision, the organization had the participation of scientists who had previously worked at the Arecibo facility. “We perfectly understand how much Arecibo has meant to the scientific community. There are few radio astronomers who haven’t worked on the radio telescope at some point in their careers ,” said Sean Jones, deputy director of physical and mathematical sciences at the Foundation.
In part, the decision not to rebuild the main Arecibo radio telescope is because many of its functions can already be carried out from other scientific bases inside and outside the United States . The Foundation believes that educating the population in science is a much higher priority now due to the number of people who have begun to believe in conspiracy theories and other ideas without scientific support.
the end of an era
The Arecibo radio telescope was in operation for almost 60 years and played a fundamental role in locating and cataloging asteroids that represented a potential danger to humanity. In addition, it also contributed to supporting research that won numerous Nobel Prizes throughout these 6 decades. The gigantic, 1,000-foot-diameter dish-shaped antenna has even been featured in movies and other works.
The dish collapse of this facility occurred in 2020 when a main cable snapped, causing the structure above it to collapse. Although investigations into this fact continue, scientists mention that the collapse was caused by a manufacturing defect in the cable that supported the antenna and the weakening of the radio telescope over the years due to natural phenomena and other factors.
Watch: The moment the giant telescope collapsed, this week, at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. pic.twitter.com/HhfkwoAXzT
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) December 3, 2020