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Thread: Arecibo radio telescope being decommissioned

  1. #1
    Moderator Dr Mordrid's Avatar
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    Default Arecibo radio telescope being decommissioned

    http://spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=56601

    NSF begins planning for decommissioning of Arecibo Observatory’s 305-meter telescope due to safety concerns

    Press Release From:*National Science Foundation
    Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2020

    Following a review of engineering assessments that found damage to the Arecibo Observatory cannot be stabilized without risk to construction workers and staff at the facility, the U.S. National Science Foundation will begin plans to decommission the 305-meter telescope, which for 57 years has served as a world-class resource for radio astronomy, planetary, solar system and geospace research.

    The decision comes after NSF evaluated multiple assessments by independent engineering companies that found the telescope structure is in danger of a catastrophic failure and its cables may no longer be capable of carrying the loads they were designed to support. Furthermore, several assessments stated that any attempts at repairs could put workers in potentially life-threatening danger. Even in the event of repairs going forward, engineers found that the structure would likely present long-term stability issues.

    "NSF prioritizes the safety of workers, Arecibo Observatory’s staff and visitors, which makes this decision necessary, although unfortunate," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "For nearly six decades, the Arecibo Observatory has served as a beacon for breakthrough science and what a partnership with a community can look like. While this is a profound change, we will be looking for ways to assist the scientific community and maintain that strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico."

    Engineers have been examining the Arecibo Observatory 305-meter telescope since August, when one of its support cables detached. NSF authorized the University of Central Florida, which manages Arecibo, to take all reasonable steps and use available funds to address the situation while ensuring safety remained the highest priority. UCF acted quickly, and the evaluation process was following its expected timeline, considering the age of the facility, the complexity of the design and the potential risk to workers.

    The engineering teams had designed and were ready to implement emergency structural stabilization of the auxiliary cable system. While the observatory was arranging for delivery of two replacement auxiliary cables, as well as two temporary cables, a main cable broke on the same tower Nov. 6. Based on the stresses on the second broken cable -- which should have been well within its ability to function without breaking -- engineers concluded that the remaining cables are likely weaker than originally projected.

    "Leadership at Arecibo Observatory and UCF did a commendable job addressing this situation, acting quickly and pursuing every possible option to save this incredible instrument," said Ralph Gaume, director of NSF's Division of Astronomical Sciences. "Until these assessments came in, our question was not if the observatory should be repaired but how. But in the end, a preponderance of data showed that we simply could not do this safely. And that is a line we cannot cross."
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    Dr. Mordrid
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  2. #2
    Super MURCer MultimediaMan's Avatar
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    Considering this thing has been collapsing for the better part of year with two major cable failures in past few months... I'd say the press release is comically tardy.
    Hey, Donny! We got us a German who wants to die for his country... Oblige him. - Lt. Aldo Raine

  3. #3
    Moderator Dr Mordrid's Avatar
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    And it's a gift to NSF, they've been trying to ditch it for years.

    https://www.centauri-dreams.org/2006...on-of-arecibo/
    Dr. Mordrid
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    Moderator Dr Mordrid's Avatar
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    Sounds like Arecibo 2 will be a phased array...

    https://spacenews.com/arecibo-replac...nal-awareness/

    Arecibo replacement could support space situational awareness

    WASHINGTON — A proposal to replace the giant radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico with a new facility suggests it could be used for tracking space objects as well as for scientific research.

    Plans for a potential replacement of the 305-meter radio telescope at Arecibo, whose observing platform collapsed Dec. 1, are still in their early phases. One proposal, developed by observatory staff and submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) in a recent white paper, calls for replacing the giant dish with an array of up to 1,000 small dishes, each nine meters across, on a platform spanning the current dish.

    “As we move into the future, we feel that phased arrays are probably the right way to go, rather than continue to focus on large single-dish elements,” said Francisco Cordova, director of Arecibo Observatory, during a presentation at a Jan. 21 meeting of a committee supporting the ongoing planetary science decadal survey by the National Academies.

    The concept in the white paper would double the sensitivity of the single-dish radio telescope and increase sky coverage by 250% compared to the fixed dish, as well as incorporate a new radar system. “From our perspective as the operator, we feel that the 305-meter was really an invaluable tool,” he said. “But, any future visions of the site really need to be centered around the development of a next-generation instrument.”
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    Dr. Mordrid
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    An elephant is a mouse built to government specifications.

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