One of the world’s largest radio telescopes, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, went out of service due to a broken support cable. This is stated in the message, which was published on the website of the American University of Central Florida (UCF) on Tuesday, August 11.
As a result of a break in the cable that supported the antenna feed, a 30-meter hole was formed in the main mirror of the telescope with a diameter of 300 m. The reasons for the cable break are not yet clear.
“We have a group of experts who assess the current situation,” the university website quoted the director of the observatory as saying. He noted that the goal is to ensure the safety of the observatory’s staff, to protect its facilities and equipment, and to restore the operation of the facility as soon as possible.
UCF operates the observatory under a cooperation agreement with Universidad Ana G. Méndez and Yang Enterprises Inc. The facility, which houses one of the most powerful telescopes on Earth, is used by scientists around the world to conduct research in atmospheric sciences, planetary science, radio astronomy, and radar astronomy.
It is noted that the telescope was built 50 years ago and since then it has experienced many storms and hurricanes, but repair work after Hurricane Maria in 2017 is still ongoing.
As Gazeta.Ru notes, in September 207 hurricane Maria broke the 29-meter Arecibo radar antenna in half, its fragments pierced the main telescope mirror and damaged the auxiliary one.
At the end of July 2020, Tropical Storm Isaiah formed in the Atlantic Ocean and hit Puerto Rico and the US East Coast. Because of him, US President Donald Trump declared an emergency on August 1.