The collapse of the landmark radio telescope Arecibo Observatory Last month in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico, left astronomers many questions about what went wrong and what would happen next.
At the Virtual City Hall event held at the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Monday (January 11), officials from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the facility, provided the most detailed retelling of the event to date .resulting in The telescope collapses out of control On December 1.
This event was the first speech by the institution to researchers since the institution collapsed. Officials emphasized that they Scientists from all over the world connected with Arecibo. Ashley Zauderer, project leader of the NSF Arecibo Observatory, said in his speech: “NSF is very grateful that the safety zone is sufficient and no one is harmed.”
related: Scientists say that the loss of Arecibo Observatory will create an unfilled vacancy
Zadler said: “The reason I say “being physically injured” is because we really want to make it clear that we understand that this is a very traumatic event that affects a lot of people.” “There are a lot of injuries.”
Zauderer’s comments focused on providing astronomers with detailed information about the collapse event. The timeline began in 2017 when Hurricane Emma and Maria Puerto Rico was hit hard. When the cable failed in August, the factory was preparing to repair the damage caused. (Hurricane repair involves replacing another cable connected to a different support tower, rather than the cable that eventually fails as the collapse situation develops.)
But then, in the early morning of August 10, a huge cable supporting a 900-ton science platform slipped out of the socket. The engineer assessed the situation, determined that the structure should remain stable, and began to develop a maintenance strategy. Zadler said that at the same time, he began to investigate what went wrong.
She said: “The failed socket has been removed and sent to NASA’s Kennedy Laboratory in early October for evidence to understand why it failed, and then to help us understand whether other sockets are also potentially dangerous.”
Once again, a maintenance plan was made, and the facility was ready to start work, only to be hit by a disaster again. On November 6, another cable connected to the same tower was disconnected.After the second failure, NSF concluded that there is no safe way to Stabilization or rescue facility And on November 19, a decision was announced to begin evaluating methods for decommissioning the telescope in a controlled manner, although Zodler told the assembled astronomers that the National Science Foundation still has hope.
related: Puerto Ricans mourn the iconic telescope at Arecibo Observatory
She said: “Even though we said we planned to retire at the time, we were still looking for more information so that when new information was discovered that there is a safe way to repair the telescope, we are ready to replace it.”
This transformation is impossible. The platform collapsed through a 1,000-foot-wide (305-meter) high-altitude disk below it on December 1, destroying the radio telescope.
Zadler said: “This is not what we all want.” “Since August, the NSF has been working hard to develop a stability plan.”
Although the future of the site is still unknown Congress joins astronomers And Puerto Ricans, asked for the latest information about the facility before the end of February-what happened, how the NSF hopes to handle the observatory and related cost estimates.The request is as Comprehensive bill to fund the agency Until the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30; Ralph Gaume, director of the NSF Astronomical Science Department, cited the requirements of Congress during City Hall, but did not provide detailed information on how the NSF achieves this requirement.
Zauderer told Space.com that the team began evaluating how to safely clean the site on the day of the collapse. She said: “The work is progressing very positively, but due to the large number of debris, it needs to be carried out safely and appropriate environmental protection measures are taken, so it will take a long time.”
But Zodler did point out in his speech that the collapse did not completely destroy the iconic antenna of the radio telescope. She said: “About 50% of the mirrors are still intact.” “At present, we are considering weighing the pros and cons of keeping, rebuilding or what to do.”
Email Meghan Bartels to firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels.follow us On Twitter @Spacedotcom and Facebook.