In August 2020, the sad news of the damage came Arecibo radio telescope. The damage was yet to be assessed and there seemed to be a slim chance of being able to keep it active for future research activities. Unfortunately, by November of the same year, further damage had dampened hopes and dismantling of the primary structure had begun. These days we have reached the end of service life large US radio telescope.
It was only a matter of time before the work to remove the damaged parts and what was left of the jungle structure was complete. L’NSF extension (National Science Foundation) doesn’t seem really intent on creating a new structure where once existed radio telescope and this could put an (almost) complete end to US scientific research in Puerto Rico.
The end of the life of the Arecibo radio telescope
The Professor Abel Mendez (planetary astrobiologist and director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory) he wrote on X/Twitter in the last few hours “Today is the final collapse of Arecibo Observatory. In 2020, it lost its iconic 305-yard bowl. Now all remaining instruments and computers will be shut down. Few people will stay there to move to an education center in the following months”.
Méndez himself writes that it is not yet clear whether there will actually be one new radio telescope in the same area. The problem continues to be related to NSF funding and how it will be invested in the years to come. Plans are underway to set up a STEM research center called the Arecibo Center for STEM Education and Research (ACSER), which will be allocated US$1 to US$3 million annually for maintenance, compared to the more than US$7 million the previously provided structure.
Some (small) good news is that the visitor center will reopen in the coming months, leaving traces of what once was Arecibo radio telescope. Then there is another piece of good news.
One of the last screenshots of the computer network from are food (source)
In the history of the observatory, a lot of data was collected (several TB), but it was not lost. At the moment were transferred for the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). However, there is a problem with the software that can read this data. In addition, it would be necessary to provide students who wish to explore its content with the necessary hardware for the radio telescope to do so “live” also in the future and maybe come to new discoveries. That’s why it was opened a support action to raise some of the money needed.
Today at 00:03 (Italian time) the Arecibo radio telescope has been officially disconnected from the internet. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) he explained that some measures will be taken in the future to ensure minimum information continuity. Some researchers have suggested building 314-meter antennas, while adding 9-meter antennas to the top. We remember that Arecibo radio telescope was used for research related to extraterrestrial life by sending a message into space in 1974. In addition, its data was useful in various studies of astronomy and entered popular culture thanks to the films Contact and 007 – GoldenEye, the X-Files series and the Battlefield 4 video game.