One of the world’s largest radio telescopes that has been used to observe the stars for more than half a century has collapsed.
Unfortunately, the telescope sustained massive damage in August and has been deteriorating ever since.
The US National Science Foundation (NSF) said the 900-ton instrument platform, suspended by cables 137 meters above a 305-meter-wide reflective plate, fell on Tuesday morning.
No one was injured in the collapse.
Scientists from all over the world have used the telescope to look for signs of extraterrestrials, study distant planets, and monitor potentially dangerous asteroids.
Two of the cables broke down over the summer, forcing officials to shut down the observatory as engineers tried to figure out how to fix the damage.
Engineering reviews found that repairing the structure is extremely dangerous and will have to be demolished.
During the collapse, the top section of the three telescope support towers cut and the support cables also lowered as the device platform fell.
The learning center of the observatory adjacent to the telescope was severely damaged by falling cables.
“We are saddened by this situation, but we are grateful that no one was hurt,” NSF Director Sethuraman Banchanathan said in a statement.
“Our focus is now on assessing the damage, finding ways to restore operations in other parts of the observatory, and working to continue supporting the scientific community, the people of Puerto Rico.”
It is not yet known why the cables were initially cut during the summer.
The Arecibo Observatory is also home to a 12-meter-high telescope used for radio astronomy research, as well as a facility to study Earth’s upper atmosphere and ionosphere.