Monday, November 9, 2020

A second cable failed at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

UCF, which manages the facility:

A main cable that supports the Arecibo Observatory broke Friday at 7:39 p.m. Puerto Rico time.

Unlike the auxiliary cable that failed at the same facility on Aug. 10, this main cable did not slip out of its socket. It broke and fell onto the reflector dish below, causing additional damage to the dish and other nearby cables. Both cables were connected to the same support tower. 


The facility was awaiting a team of engineers this week who were expected to begin temporary emergency repairs related to the August incident.


The facility's heart is a massive, delicate radio telescope built into the island's geology and surrounded by jungle. Arecibo Observatory has operated for more than five decades, including perhaps most famously broadcasting in 1974 the so-called Arecibo Message meant to update any intelligent life about our technical skills. But lately, the observatory has been battered: First it suffered "relatively minor" damage during 2017's massive Hurricane Maria; this year already it endured a batch of earthquakes in January