NASA’s Arecibo observatory went out of order for several months due to a 30-kilogram cable that fell on it. The renovation will take several months.
Repairing the damage to the Arecibo Observatory could take several months, according to SpaceNews. This was announced during the NASA meeting by the director of the Planetary Defense Coordination Bureau Lindley Johnson.
On August 10, one of the auxiliary cables, which held the metal platform of the observatory above the telescope bowl, burst. He left a 30-meter hole in the surface of the telescope antenna, and also partially damaged the platform and some scientific instruments. Observatory personnel have not yet figured out why the cable broke. The incident took place at night when there were no people around.
According to SpaceNews, a meter of cable weighed about 30 kg, and more than 200 meters of cable fell on the device. This is several tons of material that fell on the device.
“The observatory staff continues to study the damage and assess the possible cost of repairing the telescope. However, we can already say that Arecibo will not return to work anytime soon. Most likely, it will take at least several months to restore its antenna”.
Lindley Johnson, Head of Planetary Defense
The Arecibo Observatory is still assessing damage and the National Science Foundation (NSF) will oversee the repairs. According to Gizmodo, only about 250 primary reflector panels were damaged (the device has 40,000 panels installed). But repairs can be more difficult if the platform used to access parts of the telescope is unsafe.
The uniqueness of the Arecibo telescope lies in the fact that not only powerful radio signal receivers, but also emitters are built into its antenna. Thanks to this, astronomers can study in detail the shape of asteroids approaching the Earth and assess how dangerous they are for the planet.