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The end is near for famed Arecibo Observatory's damaged telescope

November 19, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

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After decades of aiding astronomical discoveries, the 305-meter telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will be decommissioned after sustaining damage caused by two falling cables.

The 305-meter telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will be decommissioned, according to an announcement made by the US National Science Foundation on Thursday.

Engineers were assessing and working on a plan to repair the damage when another main cable on the tower broke on November 6.

Even if engineers could safely fix all the damage and add cables to support the telescope, it would likely have stability issues in the future.

This led to the NSF making the decision to decommission the telescope after 57 years.

"Over its lifetime, Arecibo Observatory has helped transform our understanding of the ionosphere, showing us how density, composition and other factors interact to shape this critical region where Earth's atmosphere meets space," said Michael Wiltberger, head of NSF's Geospace Section, in a statement.

While the telescope will be decommissioned, the NSF plans to preserve as much of the observatory as it can.

"NSF recognizes the cultural and economic significance of Arecibo Observatory to Puerto Rico, and how the telescope serves as an inspiration for Puerto Ricans considering education and employment in STEM," according to a release from the agency.

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