The world’s second-largest radio telescope crashed Tuesday morning.
The 900-ton operating platform of the Arecibo Laboratory, which received radio waves and was suspended in the air at 450 feet (140 meters), collided with a 1,000-foot-wide (300-meter-wide) disk below. When it fell, it was pulled down with the tops of three surrounding support towers.
Inactive videos show that the hanging platform started when the cables connecting one of the towers broke. Previously, The sub-cable of the same tower broke in August, Its one The main cables broke in November.
Since then, the National Science Foundation, owned by Arecibo, has been rushing to disassemble the telescope because it was clear that a complete collapse was possible.
But the stage collapsed before the engineers could make much progress in the reconstruction work.
Jonathan Friedman, who has been part of the scientific staff at the Arecibo Lab since 1993, Told the local news agency Noticentro The collapse sounded like the sound of an earthquake, a train or an avalanche.
The video below, captured from a nearby control tower, shows him falling off the stage at 7:54 a.m. local time. A cable exits the gateway, which allows engineers to access the site.
The top of the tower where the cables are broken, visible in the background, then falls off. The top of another tower that is broken is rolling down the hill on the left.
NSF I shared video footage of the catastrophic collapse of the Arecibo telescope on Tuesday morning. It’s loud.
(Courtesy Arecibo Laboratory, an NSF facility) pic.twitter.com/9zvyrUsfJl
– Morgan McBall-Johnson (or Morgan M. Johnson) December 3, 2020
“As you can see, this is a very violent and unpredictable failure,” Ashley Sadder, NSF project manager at Arecibo Labs, told a conference on Thursday.
In a separate video, the drone footage shows the cables crashing and as a result crashing from above. Drone surveillance was carried out on the platform of the drone because drone surveillance was an important piece of information for engineers trying to figure out how to rebuild the telescope.
Due to the known risk of collapse, no one was allowed access to the unstable structure after the cable rupture in mid-November.
The area around the dish and the three towers were cordoned off, so no one was injured in the fall, the NSF said.
The inevitable collapse
The downward spiral of Arecibo began in August, when a 3-inch-thick sub-cable protruded from its socket in one of the three towers of the telescope and Collided on the dish. It tore 100 feet apart in the panels and threw.
The second failure, the broken main cable, took telescope managers by surprise in November. After an engineering assessment, it was found that the remaining cables were responsible for breaking the platform at any time.
The NSF decided to say goodbye to Arecibo and cut down on the world’s best radio telescope, as the system was so unstable without the risk of technicians falling while working on repairs.
A step towards the search for alien lives
In its 57-year mission, Arecibo hunted down dangerous meteorites near Earth, searched for signs of alien life, and discovered the first planet beyond our solar system.
In 1974, Arecibo Very powerful broadcast Earth has so far been sent to communicate with potential aliens. In 2016, it was rediscovered Fast radio explosions: Mysterious space signals that scientists now think Come from the dead stars.
Arecibo’s largest dish antenna, a Depression On the ground in the Puerto Rican jungle, radio waves reflected from space to its suspended base.
Abel Mendes, director of the Planetary Habitat Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico in Arecibo, said the loss of the telescope was a major blow to humanity looking for radio waves transmitted by other forms of life. This is because Arecibo and China’s five-hundred-meter-wide spherical radio telescope is the “two big eyes” of the Earth in (fast) radio astronomy.
“If you lose Arecibo, you lose the ability to monitor – 24 hours a day – dim source of radio signals,” Mendes said. Told Business Insider Before the collapse, he said, “If you are looking for a source of interest in the weak radio spectrum, you need two large radio telescopes: one pointing to something during the day and the other at night.”
Other National Science Foundation facilities – the National Radio Astronomy Laboratory in Virginia and the Green Bank Laboratory in West Virginia – may take some data collection from Arecibo, but they are not as sensitive to weak radio signals as Arecibo.
Dave Mosher contributed to the reporting.
This article was originally published Business Insider.
More from Business Inner: