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Arecibo radio telescope collapses

last modified Dec 02, 2020 09:39 AM
The iconic Arecibo Observatory has collapsed, ending a 57-year run as one of the world's most powerful telescopes.

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced today that the instrument platform at the Arecibo Observatory has fallen onto the dish, 137 metres below, causing catastrophic damage. This latest collapse came just weeks after the Observatory suffered series of cable failures, the result of which was that Arecibo was closed and destined to be decommissioned. 

Since the early 1960s, the Arecibo Observatory has been one of the world's foremost radio telescopes. Some of its many scientific achievements include the first detection of an exoplanet, the first detection of a binary pulsar (which led to a Nobel prize for the discoverers), and the long-running search for extra-terrestrial life (including sending the famous 'Arecibo message' in 1974).