Iconic Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico collapses before plans to demolish


By CRISTINA CORUJO, ABC News(NEW YORK) — Scientists, students and Puerto Ricans are among those mourning the collapse of the iconic radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.The telescope collapsed Tuesday morning after showing signs of extreme weakness, according to scientists. The radio-telescope suffered major damage after a cable that helped support the 900-ton platform hanging 450 feet above the ground broke in August. Weeks later, a second cable gave in putting the telescope at greater risk.According to the National Science Foundation, no injuries were reported. NSF said it is working with “stakeholders to assess the situation,” on its Twitter feed on Tuesday.Some took to social media sharing messages of what the observatory meant to them.”What I will miss the most is the joy that we found at the Observatory. The sheer joy of sharing astronomical discovery with people from all walks of life, something we could do at Arecibo only because of where it was,” one Twitter user posted.”Arecibo Observatory touched the lives of so many people,” the Planetary Society tweeted.The NSF had already announced plans to demolish and decommission the radio-telescope due to a possible risk of collapse on Nov. 19.The NSF’s announcement led to the start of a petition requesting action to have the telescope stabilized. As of Tuesday morning, there were over 50,000 signatures.The famous Arecibo Observatory had been in service for 57 years and was responsible for tracking asteroids and made some groundbreaking discoveries.For many scientists the radio-telescope was a key instrument in astronomy and a place of pride. “It represents half of my professional life. It was my home,” said senior research associate at the Arecibo Observatory, Jonathan S. Friedman in an interview with WAPA-TV Tuesday. During the interview Friedman said he heard an intense rumble noise around 7:50 a.m. local time that lasted some seconds. Friedman said he took a picture showing the broken towers that were holding the platform.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.