NSF
Failing Cables

Dramatic Drone Video Shows Collapse of Alien-Hunting Observatory

byVictor Tangermann
12. 3. 20
NSF

Ugh, that sound is horrifying.

The Great Collapse

December 1 was a sad day for astronomers everywhere. The iconic 57-year-old Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico met its final demise when the 900-ton platform suspended above the 1,000-foot-wide dish antenna came crashing down — an accident caused by failing cables that were already stretched to their limits by previous damage.

Now, newly released footage shows the dramatic failure, including close-up drone shots of cables slowly unraveling, leading to the platform hurtling down in a cloud of debris.

Cable Failure

Two cable failures, one in October and one in November, sealed the fate of the observatory, with engineers initially planning to decommission and deconstruct the aging structure.

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The collapse, however, was not planned, despite efforts to introduce some slack into existing cables to keep one of the strained cable support towers upright.

“After the November 6th cable failure, the [remaining] cables could have failed at any time,” Ralph Gaume, director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Astronomical Sciences told reporters at a briefing this morning, as quoted by Engadget. “We were unable to predict when it would happen, [but] we knew it would happen.”

There is still a fleeting chance of rebuilding the structure, and the NSF has yet to rule out such a possibility. But it will be a hard sell, especially as it involves asking Congress for funding.

READ MORE: NSF offers a closer look at how the Arecibo Observatory collapsed [Engadget]

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More on the collapse: Arecibo SETI Telescope Collapses Completely


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