MYSTERY WIRE — An enormous radio telescope used in part to look for anything out of the ordinary happening in space was severely damaged recently when a broken cable tore a 100-foot gash in its reflector dish.
This happened on August 11 to the Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico.
The University of Central Florida that manages the National Science Foundation facility said eight panels in the dome also were damaged and the platform used to access the dome is now twisted.
In a spacenews.com article, observatory officials said they did not know what caused the cable to break. “We have a team of experts assessing the situation,” Francisco Cordova, director of the observatory, said, with a goal of “restoring the facility to full operations as soon as possible.” He did not estimate how long the repairs will take or how much they will cost.
Built in the early 1960s, Arecibo was the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world, with a diameter of 305 meters. It remained the largest in the world for decades, until China completed the Five Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, in 2016.