GoldenEye: Famous Dish Location to Be Demolished Due to "Catastrophic" Damage

The famous Arecibo telescope that worked to make the James Bond movie

Operations at the observatory were halted in August when one of its supportive cables slipped loose from its socket, falling and creating a 30-metre hole in its 305-metre-wide reflector dish. The urgency now is to dismantle the structure safely before it collapses, putting people and other equipment at risk. "Although it saddens us to make this recommendation, we believe the structure should be demolished in a controlled way as soon as pragmatically possible", stated the company in its recommendations letter.

For 57 years, the telescope has been an iconic tool used to explore the cosmos and been at the fore of astronomy, planetary, solar system and geospace research.

"This decision comes after the NSF evaluated a number of independent engineering companies that found the telescope system at risk of a catastrophic failure, and its cables would no longer be capable of carrying loads created to support them", the NSF said in a statement. This was one of the four primary cables, each of which should have been capable of holding 544 tonnes - but "snapped under only" 283 tonnes, according to a report then by the Associated Press. "There is a serious risk of an unexpected and uncontrolled collapse", Gaume said. "It is therefore our recommendation to expeditiously plan for decommissioning of the observatory and execute a controlled demolition of the telescope".

Since the early 60s, the Arecibo Observatory has been an exemplary tool for breakthrough science and has been used by many astronomical disciplines to boost discoveries, including research into brown dwarfs, locating near-Earth objects (NEOs) understanding pulsars and helping to refine fundamental theories of gravity. "At a time when public interest and scientific curiosity about space and the skies has re-intensified, there remains much to understand about the data that has been acquired by Arecibo".

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In the 1970s, it was used to beam a message about Earth and humanity into space, along with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Green Bank, West Virginia through a NASA program called Microwave Observing Program (MOP).

Its building was completed in 1963, and for more than 50 years it has been considered the world's largest single-aperture radio telescope. The officials said that this meant a lot to the community of Puerto Rico and they will miss it a lot in future.

"NSF prioritises the safety of workers, Arecibo Observatory's staff and visitors, which makes this decision necessary, although unfortunate", said NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan. Its dish is spherical, not parabolic, and a 900 t instrument platform is suspended some 137 m above it, by cables connected to three towers.

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