The huge Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico has collapsed overnight. The catastrophic failure was predicted by engineers after the telescope suffered two serious cable failures in recent months, which could have compromised the integrity of the entire observatory structure.
Photos of Arecibo surfaced this morning, showing that the huge 900-ton plateau that normally hangs above the observatory was no longer there. The National Science Foundation (NSF), which oversees Arecibo, has confirmed the platform has collapsed into a massive “mission” wide 304.8 meters.
“We are sorry for this situation, but we are grateful that no one was injured,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said in a statement. He added, “We are currently focusing on assessing the damage, finding ways to restore operations in other parts of the observatory, and continuing to support the scientific community and people of Puerto Rico.”
Initial findings suggest that the tops of all three towers that held the massive platform ruptured, causing the structure to collapse. When the platform fell, the telescope’s support cables also fell, causing extensive damage to the nearby Arecibo training center. At a press conference in early November, the NSF noted that each of the main cables weighed about 6.8 tons.