Today, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released shocking footage The collapse of the Arecibo Laboratory in Puerto Rico. This video, captured on December 1, shows the moment when the support cables broke, causing the 900-tonne giant, parked above Arecibo, to fall into the lab’s iconic 1,000-foot-wide dish.
Videos of the crash were captured on a camera located in Arecibo’s operational control center and on a drone above the stage at the time of the crash. The drone operator was able to adjust the drone camera to capture the moment of impact as the stage began to fall. The NSF, which oversees Arecibo, carried out an hour-long surveillance with drones from the engineers. He warned that the system was on the verge of collapsing in November. “I think we’m lucky that the drone operator is so good at seeing what’s happening and operating the camera,” Ashley Judder, NSF project manager at Arecibo Labs, told a news conference.
These scenes illustrate the moment when several cables crashed, causing Audi to hit the side of the dish, outside the stage. The collapse also knocked down the tops of the three support towers around Arecibo, where the cables were connected. “The cables that go from the top of the tower to the platform – they ‘look very dazzling on camera, but they’ are there,” said John Abruzzo, a contractor for engineering consulting firm Thornton Tomassetti. Employed by the University of Central Florida. “So, those cables first fail near the tower, and then if they fail, the platform then loses stability and starts to come down,” said Abruzzo, describing the first video from the control center.
The decline of Arecibo did not come as a surprise. Following the failure of two support cables in August and November, the engineers had decided that there was no safe way to fix the Arecibo and that it could fall on the stage dish at any time. The NSF relied on telescopic demolition before it happened, but the collapse occurred before any action could be taken.
Now the NSF is trying to figure out a way forward, which often revolves around figuring out how to safely clean up Arecibo. Engineers need to do a full environmental assessment of the area and find out how stable the remaining structures are.
Replacing Arecibo is a very lengthy process involving the decisions of legislators. “As far as modification is concerned, the NSF has a well-defined process for financing and building large-scale infrastructure, including telescopes,” said Ralph Gomez, director of the NSF Astronomy Division., Said. “This is a multi-year process that includes congressional allocations and the assessment and needs of the scientific community. So it is very early for us to comment on alternatives.”