Astronomie - Astronomers downsize proposed Arecibo observatory replacement



Down and out: The Arecibo Observatory's metal tower that is held above the 305 m-wide dish collapsed destroying the telescope in 2020. (Courtesy: UCF)

Astronomers at the iconic Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico have revised their plans for a telescope to replace the original facility, which dramatically collapsed in 2020. The so-called Next Generation Arecibo Telescope (NGAT) would, if funded, involve building a phased array of small parabolic antennas to carry out pioneering research to maintain the island’s position at the forefront of astronomy.

The Arecibo Observatory, which first opened in 1963, is located in a natural bowl and was used for research into radio astronomy, planetary and space studies as well as atmospheric science.  But on 1 December 2020 the radio telescope’s suspended platform – with its Gregorian dome focus and a plethora of instrumentation – fell after multiple suspension cables failed. The 900-tonne platform crashed into the 305 m dish, which lies almost 140m below, destroying parts of it.

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