Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory Telescope Collapse Has Hit The Science Community Hard
The scientific community is mourning the sudden loss of Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The observatory was an integral part of research space research and was an important training ground for science students.
The Arecibo Observatory collapsed in the early morning hours of Dec. 1.
The 900-ton platform came crashing down on the 1000-foot wide dish. The platform, which was suspended above the reflective dish, crashed after suffering catastrophic failures. Two wires snapped previously and engineers warned that the platform was at risk of falling as a result.
“I was very sad, very disappointed,” Génesis Ferrer, a fourth-year physics student at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus, told NBC News. “I worked so hard to finally get accepted to work in the Arecibo Observatory. And now that I got accepted, I can’t work in it. I felt very sad, not only individually, but I also saw it as a very sad thing for Puerto Rico and the science in Puerto Rico.”
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has reported no injuries.
The NSF was already planning on removing the structure after two cables broke and engineers warned that the platform was no longer stable. With no safe way to fix the structure, NSF had prepared to find a way to safely demolish the structure.
“NSF is saddened by this development,” the agency said on Twitter. “As we move forward, we will be looking for ways to assist the scientific community and maintain our strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico.”
The loss of the impressive structure will be felt for years to come as the engineers assess the full damage.
There are people already calling on the U.S. government to step up and fund a rebuild of the important scientific structure. There is an updated petition that is asking for the structure to be rebuilt to its former glory.
“The telescope collapsed but the investigations facility and the visitor’s center is still there. With the appropriate funding, we have a viable path towards reconstruction,” Kevin Ortiz, also a physics student, told NBC News. “The educational impact of the observatory is incalculable, at all levels, from professionals and college students to the high school academy and the elementary schools that visit our center.”