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Arecibo Radio Telescope Suffers Damage To Dish

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La Paz de Los Ricos
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Arecibo Radio Telescope Suffers Damage To Dish

Postby La Paz de Los Ricos » Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:15 pm

Have not seen any threads commenting on the topic, and I feel it important to bring this to the attention of NSG. Early on the morning of August 10th, the Arecibo Observatory's massive radio dish had a hundred-foot scar torn through is as a support cable snapped and struck the aluminum plating.

From the University of Central Florida - https://www.ucf.edu/news/broken-cable-d ... servatory/

"One of the auxiliary cables that helps support a metal platform in place above the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, broke on Monday (Aug. 10) causing a 100-foot-long gash on the telescope’s reflector dish. Operations at the UCF-managed observatory are stopped until repairs can be made.

The break occurred about 2:45 a.m. When the three-inch cable fell it also damaged about 6-8 panels in the Gregorian Dome and twisted the platform used to access the dome. It is not yet clear what caused the cable to break.

'We have a team of experts assessing the situation,' says Francisco Cordova, the director of the observatory. 'Our focus is assuring the safety of our staff, protecting the facilities and equipment, and restoring the facility to full operations as soon as possible, so it can continue to assist scientists around the world.'"


From NPR - https://www.npr.org/2020/08/12/90192063 ... ling-cable

"A broken cable at Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory has torn a gaping 100-foot hole in the dish of one of the largest radio telescopes in the world, taking the instrument offline until repairs can be made.

Arecibo's massive reflector dish, which is built inside a sinkhole in northern Puerto Rico, was damaged when a 3-inch diameter support cable unexpectedly snapped before dawn on Monday, according to the University of Central Florida, which manages the observatory."


From Space.com - https://www.space.com/arecibo-observato ... -down.html

"One of the telescope's supporting cables snapped early Monday morning (Aug. 10), ripping a 100-foot-long (30 meters) gash in the giant radio dish, according to the University of Central Florida (UCF). The observatory has been shut down while engineers assess the damage and formulate a fix."


An image of the split cable which caused the damage. (Credited to the University of Central Florida)

An image of the damage, as seen from the edge of the dish. (Credited to Phil Perillat)

No injuries were caused as a result of the damage.

EDIT: More pertinent information suggesting the location of the point of failure

This page has some images which may point out what exactly went wrong.

- http://www.naic.edu/~phil/hardware/tele ... main4.html

Dated the tenth of August this year, this seems to be a log of some sort of edit made to a page.

The content suggests what I mentioned in my post prior, that the cable somehow came loose from the socket it was embedded in and whiplashed out, rather than fraying and splitting somewhere between the socket and its other anchor point.

Directly from the above page:

"On 10aug20 at 02:35:55 ast the auxiliary main cable from tower 4 (north aux main cable #301) came out of the socket at the tower and fell into the dish. When the cable fell, the operator stopped the telescope."


This page also has a list of photos (all credit to Phil Perillat).

- This photo seems to further correlate what I've said. There seems to be at least two anchor points visible on the tower within the image. The one to the right has a cable anchored inside it. The one on the left seems to be the one which came loose.

- This image seems to show what may be the wire dangling from its other anchor point, above the Gregorian dome.

- Another image showing the wire limply draped over the railing of what may be a supporting strut on the radio telescope's instrument modules.

- Here's what seems to show the cable's split end lying on what presumably is the aluminum-plated surface of the radio dish itself. I'm not certain if this image was taken after the cable has been manipulated by workers, or if that's where it was found.




The Arecibo Radio Telescope is one of the most precious and valuable instruments available to astronomy and the study of the universe. Since its completion in 1963, the Arecibo Observatory has played a significant role in many scientific endeavors, including pinpointing of the correct duration of a day on Mercury (sourced here), the discovery of the first binary pulsar (sourced here), and directly imaging an asteroid for the first time (which may be viewed here). It is also instrumental in verifying predictions of asteroid impacts to the Earth. The Arecibo Message of 1974, a radio message directed at the M13 globular cluster containing very basic information on humanity and the origin point of the transmission, is perhaps the Observatory's finest work (more information on the message may be found here, credited to the SETI Institute).

However, Arecibo is vulnerable. It's built in Puerto Rico, where hurricanes and other natural disasters are known to occur. In 2017, Hurricane Maria, which battered the island and caused significant damage, was responsible for minor injuries to the Observatory. The Observatory, despite its fifty years, is frequently updated to keep its workers safe and the structures sound.

The Observatory is an incredible machine. Its radio and radar capabilities have allowed it to image stellar bodies which would have been practically invisible to other telescopes. It has played a critical role in the advancement of our understanding of the Solar System, and the universe beyond. To lose the Arecibo Observatory could be one of the greatest setbacks to astronomy, with this incident reminding me of how important it is to keep the Observatory safe, secure, and running.

So, I'm tossing it to you, NSG. What say ye on the damage to the dish? Is the Observatory even worth keeping operational?
Last edited by La Paz de Los Ricos on Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:57 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby US-SSR » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:45 pm

Bummer, hope they fix it soon. Arecibo and all like it are invaluable to our understanding of the cosmos.
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Postby Greed and Death » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:02 pm

Obligatory, it was Aliens who did it.
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Postby The New California Republic » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:11 pm

I assume the cable was under tension, and when it snapped it whiplashed and thus damaged the dish?
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Postby La Paz de Los Ricos » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:27 pm

The New California Republic wrote:I assume the cable was under tension, and when it snapped it whiplashed and thus damaged the dish?


No official explanation has been offered by the Observatory's Twitter, nor from the UCF at this time, aside from what the above articles mention. At least, nothing I've seen at this point.

However, I believe that was the case. One image I've see shows what appears to be the cable's anchor socket on one of the towers. It seems as if the wire has snapped out of the socket itself, rather than it having frayed and split somewhere along the exposed, open-air part of the wire.

I will try and link it in the thread.
Last edited by La Paz de Los Ricos on Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Greed and Death » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:45 pm

No funding so it wont be repaired. Decommission time. Poor giant radio telescope you had a long life.
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Postby Munkcestrian RepubIic » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:48 pm

Sign from God to stop bothering the aliens. :)
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Postby La Paz de Los Ricos » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:49 pm

I've just now stumbled across some more pertinent information.

- http://www.naic.edu/~phil/hardware/tele ... main4.html

Dated the tenth of August this year, this seems to be a log of some sort of edit made to a page.

The content suggests what I mentioned in my post prior, that the cable somehow came loose from the socket it was embedded in and whiplashed out, rather than fraying and splitting somewhere between the socket and its other anchor point.

This page also has a list of photos (all credit to Phil Perillat).

- http://www.naic.edu/~phil/hardware/tele ... 130653.jpg

This photo seems to further correlate what I've said. There seems to be at least two anchor points visible on the tower within the image. The one to the right has a cable anchored inside it. The one on the left seems to be the one which came loose.

- http://www.naic.edu/~phil/hardware/tele ... able_3.jpg

This image seems to show what may be the wire dangling from it's other anchor point, above the Gregorian dome.

- http://www.naic.edu/~phil/hardware/tele ... 131512.jpg

Another image showing the wire limply draped over the railing of what may be the service catwalk on the radio telescope's instrument modules.

- http://www.naic.edu/~phil/hardware/tele ... 132852.jpg

Here's what seems to show the cable's split end lying on what presumably is the aluminum-plated surface of the radio dish itself. I'm not certain if this image was taken after the cable has been manipulated by workers, or if that's where it was found.
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Postby The New California Republic » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:50 pm

La Paz de Los Ricos wrote:
The New California Republic wrote:I assume the cable was under tension, and when it snapped it whiplashed and thus damaged the dish?


No official explanation has been offered by the Observatory's Twitter, nor from the UCF at this time, aside from what the above articles mention. At least, nothing I've seen at this point.

However, I believe that was the case. One image I've see shows what appears to be the cable's anchor socket on one of the towers. It seems as if the wire has snapped out of the socket itself, rather than it having frayed and split somewhere along the exposed, open-air part of the wire.

I will try and link it in the thread.

Yeah these supporting cables tend to be under a hell of a tension, so when they snap they can cause a hell of a lot of damage, being able to cleanly slice through steel. It's good there was nobody doing maintenance at the time because it would have easily killed someone.
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Postby La Paz de Los Ricos » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:51 pm

Greed and Death wrote:No funding so it wont be repaired. Decommission time. Poor giant radio telescope you had a long life.


Source?

The radio telescope has purpose, even today. The UCF doesn't seem to suggest that they're taking the old girl out of business.

- https://www.space.com/arecibo-observato ... saias.html

Even as recently as Isaias, she was still doing some important work.
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Postby La Paz de Los Ricos » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:56 pm

Munkcestrian RepubIic wrote:Sign from God to stop bothering the aliens. :)


Image

I think that's the closest we'll ever get to an extraterrestrial "shut up" :p
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Postby Outer Acharet » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:57 pm

NOOOOOOOOoooooooo.......

How are the aliens going to send us valuable biological data now?
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Postby Greed and Death » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:07 pm

La Paz de Los Ricos wrote:
Greed and Death wrote:No funding so it wont be repaired. Decommission time. Poor giant radio telescope you had a long life.


Source?

The radio telescope has purpose, even today. The UCF doesn't seem to suggest that they're taking the old girl out of business.

- https://www.space.com/arecibo-observato ... saias.html

Even as recently as Isaias, she was still doing some important work.


Government already is trying to award a contract to haul away the scrap.
https://www.sam.gov/SAM/
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Postby Outer Acharet » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:13 pm

I mean, it was already sort of outdated, but it's sad to see it got an inglorious end.
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Postby La Paz de Los Ricos » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:15 pm

The New California Republic wrote:Yeah these supporting cables tend to be under a hell of a tension, so when they snap they can cause a hell of a lot of damage, being able to cleanly slice through steel. It's good there was nobody doing maintenance at the time because it would have easily killed someone.


Oh, absolutely. Looking at those images of the snapped end of the wire made me cringe. That would instantly take out anybody it strikes. It is fortunate nobody was in its way.

Greed and Death wrote:Government already is trying to award a contract to haul away the scrap.
https://www.sam.gov/SAM/


I doubt it'll go through, not without a fight, at least.

That instrument seems far too valuable to simply allow the government to uproot. Especially with the constant maintenance and usage she's seeing.
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Postby Greed and Death » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:19 pm

La Paz de Los Ricos wrote:
The New California Republic wrote:Yeah these supporting cables tend to be under a hell of a tension, so when they snap they can cause a hell of a lot of damage, being able to cleanly slice through steel. It's good there was nobody doing maintenance at the time because it would have easily killed someone.


Oh, absolutely. Looking at those images of the snapped end of the wire made me cringe. That would instantly take out anybody it strikes. It is fortunate nobody was in its way.

Greed and Death wrote:Government already is trying to award a contract to haul away the scrap.
https://www.sam.gov/SAM/


I doubt it'll go through, not without a fight, at least.

That instrument seems far too valuable to simply allow the government to uproot. Especially with the constant maintenance and usage she's seeing.


Dont worry I won the contract. I will get paid several million dollars to haul off the equipment and sell it, strip the metal and sell it, and get rid of the plastic( dumping it in the ocean).
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Postby Heloin » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:45 pm

Greed and Death wrote:Obligatory, it was Aliens who did it.

Nah, it was Sean Bean.
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Postby Novus America » Fri Aug 14, 2020 12:25 pm

La Paz de Los Ricos wrote:
The New California Republic wrote:Yeah these supporting cables tend to be under a hell of a tension, so when they snap they can cause a hell of a lot of damage, being able to cleanly slice through steel. It's good there was nobody doing maintenance at the time because it would have easily killed someone.


Oh, absolutely. Looking at those images of the snapped end of the wire made me cringe. That would instantly take out anybody it strikes. It is fortunate nobody was in its way.

Greed and Death wrote:Government already is trying to award a contract to haul away the scrap.
https://www.sam.gov/SAM/


I doubt it'll go through, not without a fight, at least.

That instrument seems far too valuable to simply allow the government to uproot. Especially with the constant maintenance and usage she's seeing.


G&D is just screwing with you. It will get fixed. Its funding system is complicated, being it is funded by a combination of the NSF, NASA, University of Central Florida, Ana G. Méndez University, and the Government of Puerto Rico.
So while this creates issues, in that the funding comes from many different sources, even if one drops out the others can fill in.
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Postby The Black Forrest » Fri Aug 14, 2020 12:31 pm

Outer Acharet wrote:I mean, it was already sort of outdated, but it's sad to see it got an inglorious end.


Outdated? How?
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Postby The Two Jerseys » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:16 pm

Heloin wrote:
Greed and Death wrote:Obligatory, it was Aliens who did it.

Nah, it was Sean Bean.

Good, I'm not the only one who thought of it.

I don't know if the wire actually failed, looking at the anchorage it looks like it may have just been held in place by crimping and somehow managed to pull itself out.
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Postby The New California Republic » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:28 pm

Heloin wrote:
Greed and Death wrote:Obligatory, it was Aliens who did it.

Nah, it was Sean Bean.

No, if you remember it was actually Pierce Brosnan who shoved the bit of metal into the mechanism and caused the dish to tear itself apart.

Image
Last edited by Sigmund Freud on Sat Sep 23, 1939 2:23 am, edited 999 times in total.

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Postby Borderlands of Rojava » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:28 pm

The aliens didn't wanna be found. Lmfao.
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Postby Outer Acharet » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:32 pm

The Black Forrest wrote:
Outer Acharet wrote:I mean, it was already sort of outdated, but it's sad to see it got an inglorious end.


Outdated? How?

It's a fixed telescope that can't be aimed very much. Very good for occasionally broadcasting a ridiculously powerful signal at whatever it passes in front of, which makes it an excellent radio observatory for looking at other planets, but as a tool for SETI it's pales in comparison to the large arrays of smaller radio observatories like what is more in use in the modern day.Besides, Arecibo is kind of being kept on life support, anyways (kind of, partially, eh? See below comment.)

EDIT: The reason it pales is that it is a single massive array. A net of smaller arrays can a) be sort of aimed and b) can operate at the same distance as a single dish its size, albeit with poor resolution. If I had two telescopes at each end of the Moon, then IIRC you have what amounts to a telescope the size of the moon in the distance it can observe, albeit one that has the same resolution of two tiny telescopes. So current SETI arrays are functionally larger than Arecibo, which is somewhat limited as a single monolithic telescope.

EDIT2: I'm not very smart.
Last edited by Outer Acharet on Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Heloin » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:34 pm

Outer Acharet wrote:
The Black Forrest wrote:
Outdated? How?

It's a fixed telescope that can't be aimed very much. Very good for occasionally broadcasting a ridiculously powerful signal at whatever it passes in front of, which makes it an excellent radio observatory for looking at other planets, but as a tool for SETI it's pales in comparison to the large arrays of smaller radio observatories like what is more in use in the modern day. Besides, Arecibo is kind of being kept on life support, anyways.

None of that is true, not one word.
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Postby Outer Acharet » Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:35 pm

Heloin wrote:
Outer Acharet wrote:It's a fixed telescope that can't be aimed very much. Very good for occasionally broadcasting a ridiculously powerful signal at whatever it passes in front of, which makes it an excellent radio observatory for looking at other planets, but as a tool for SETI it's pales in comparison to the large arrays of smaller radio observatories like what is more in use in the modern day. Besides, Arecibo is kind of being kept on life support, anyways.

None of that is true, not one word.

What did I misunderstand?

EDIT: Seems it can aim in a larger arc than I previously imagined. I retract that point. Its primary use, as a planetary observation platform, is still correct, and it is unparalleled in that field. Operating costs are being reduced to bring it to greater operation, but it's still in fiscal trouble. I think I'm right on the SETI point but if anyone with more knowledge wants to correct me go ahead.
Last edited by Outer Acharet on Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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