Arecibo Observatory

Arecibo Observatory
Arecibo radio telescope SJU 06 2019 6144.jpg
The Arecibo Telescope in 2019
Alternative names National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center Edit this at Wikidata
Named after Arecibo Edit this on Wikidata
Organization University of Central Florida Edit this on Wikidata
Location Arecibo, Puerto Rico, United States of America Edit this at Wikidata
Coordinates 18°20′48″N 66°45′10″W / 18.34661°N 66.75278°W / 18.34661; -66.75278Coordinates: 18°20′48″N 66°45′10″W / 18.34661°N 66.75278°W / 18.34661; -66.75278
Altitude 498 m (1,634 ft) Edit this at Wikidata
Website www.naic.edu Edit this at Wikidata
Telescopes Arecibo 12m radio telescope
Arecibo Telescope Edit this on Wikidata
Commons page Related media on Wikimedia Commons
National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center
Nearest city Arecibo
Area 118 acres (48 ha)
Architect Kavanaugh, T. C.
Engineer von Seb, Inc., T. C. Kavanaugh of Praeger-Kavanagh, and Severud-Elstad-Krueger Associates[1]
NRHP reference No. 07000525
Added to NRHP September 23, 2008[2]

The Arecibo Observatory, also known as the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), is an observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico owned by the US National Science Foundation (NSF).

The observatory's main instrument was the Arecibo Telescope, a 305 m (1,000 ft) spherical reflector dish built into a natural sinkhole, with a cable-mount steerable receiver and several radar transmitters for emitting signals mounted 150 m (492 ft) above the dish. Completed in 1963, it was the world's largest single-aperture telescope for 53 years, surpassed in July 2016 by the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in China. Following two cable breaks supporting the receiver platform in the prior months, the NSF stated on November 19, 2020 that it was decommissioning the telescope due to safety concerns. On December 1, 2020 the main telescope collapsed before controlled demolition could be conducted.

The observatory also includes a radio telescope, a LIDAR facility, and a visitor's center, all which are expected to remain operational after the damage from the main telescope collapse is assessed.[3][4]

Facilities

Arecibo Telescope

The observatory's main feature was its large radio telescope, whose main collecting dish was an inverted spherical dome 1,000 feet (305 m) in diameter with an 869-foot (265 m) radius of curvature,[5] constructed inside a karst sinkhole.[6] The dish's surface was made of 38,778 perforated aluminum panels, each about 3 by 7 feet (1 by 2 m), supported by a mesh of steel cables.[5] The ground beneath supported shade-tolerant vegetation.[7]

Since its completion in November 1963, the Telescope had been used for radar astronomy and radio astronomy, and had been part of the Search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) program. It was also used by NASA for Near-Earth object detection. Since around 2006, NSF funding support for the telescope had waned as the Foundation directed funds to newer instruments, though academics petitioned to the NSF and Congress to continue support for the telescope. Numerous hurricanes, including Hurricane Maria, had damaged parts of the telescope, straining the reduced budget.

Two cable breaks, one in August 2020 and a second in November 2020, threatened the structural integrity of the support structure for the suspended platform and damaged the dish. The NSF determined in November 2020 that it was safer to decommission the telescope rather than to try to repair it, but the telescope collapsed before a controlled demolition could be carried out. The remaining support cables from one tower failed around 7:56 a.m. local time on December 1, 2020, causing the receiver platform to fall into the dish and collapsing the telescope.[8][9]

Additional telescopes

The Arecibo Observatory also has other facilities beyond the main telescope, including a 12-meter (39 ft) radio telescope intended for very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) with the main telescope;[10] and a LIDAR facility[11] whose research has continued since the main telescope's collapse.

The Arecibo Radio Telescope as viewed from the observation deck, October 2013

Ángel Ramos Foundation Visitor Center

Logo of the observatory at the entrance gate

Opened in 1997, the Ángel Ramos Foundation Visitor Center features interactive exhibits and displays about the operations of the radio telescope, astronomy and atmospheric sciences.[12] The center is named after the financial foundation that honors Ángel Ramos, owner of the El Mundo newspaper and founder of Telemundo. The Foundation provided half of the funds to build the Visitor Center, with the remainder received from private donations and Cornell University.

The center, in collaboration with the Caribbean Astronomical Society,[13] host a series of Astronomical Nights throughout the year, which feature diverse discussions regarding exoplanets, astronomical phenomena, and discoveries (such as Comet ISON). The purposes of the center are to increase public interest in astronomy, the observatory's research successes, and space endeavors.

List of directors

Source(s):[14][additional citation(s) needed]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Radio-Radar Telescope Will Probe Solar System". Electrical Engineering. 80 (7): 561. July 1961. doi:10.1109/EE.1961.6433355.
  2. ^ National Park Service (October 3, 2008). "Weekly List Actions". Archived from the original on March 29, 2013. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  3. ^ "Arecibo Observatory Telescope Collapses, Ending An Era Of World-Class Research". NPR.org. Retrieved 2020-12-03.
  4. ^ "Huge Puerto Rico radio telescope, already damaged, collapses". AP NEWS. 2020-12-01. Retrieved 2020-12-03.
  5. ^ a b Goldsmith, P. F.; Baker, L. A.; Davis, M. M.; Giovanelli, R. (1995). "Multi-feed Systems for the Arecibo Gregorian". Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series. 75: 90–98. Bibcode:1995ASPC...75...90G.
  6. ^ "Telescope Description". National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center. Archived from the original on November 20, 2020. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  7. ^ "Environmental Impact Statement for the Arecibo Observatory Arecibo, Puerto Rico (Draft)" (PDF). nsf.gov. NSF. p. 66. At the Arecibo Observatory, a mix of shade-tolerant species have colonized the area beneath the 305-meter radio telescope dish.
  8. ^ "Giant Arecibo radio telescope collapses in Puerto Rico". The Guardian. Associated Press. 1 December 2020. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  9. ^ Coto, Danica (1 December 2020). "Huge Puerto Rico radio telescope, already damaged, collapses". AP NEWS. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  10. ^ Roshi, D. Anish; Anderson, L. D.; Araya, E.; Balser, D.; Brisken, W.; Brum, C.; Campbell, D.; Chatterjee, S.; Churchwell, E.; Condon, J.; Cordes, J.; Cordova, F.; Fernandez, Y.; Gago, J.; Ghosh, T.; Goldsmith, P. F.; Heiles, C.; Hickson, D.; Jeffs, B.; Jones, K. M.; Lautenbach, J.; Lewis, B. M.; Lynch, R. S.; Manoharan, P. K.; Marshall, S.; Minchin, R.; Palliyaguru, N. T.; Perera, B. B. P.; Perillat, P.; Pinilla-Alonso, N.; Pisano, D. J.; Quintero, L.; Raizada, S.; Ransom, S. M.; Fernandez-Rodriguez, F. O.; Salter, C. J.; Santos, P.; Sulzer, M.; Taylor, P. A.; Venditti, F. C. F.; Venkataraman, A.; Virkki, A. K.; Wolszczan, A.; Womack, M.; Zambrano-Marin, L. F. (13 July 2019). "Astro2020 Activities and Projects White Paper: Arecibo Observatory in the Next Decade". arXiv:1907.06052 [astro-ph]. arXiv:1907.06052.
  11. ^ "NSF begins planning for decommissioning of Arecibo Observatory's 305-meter telescope due to safety concerns [News Release 20-010]". www.nsf.gov. Archived from the original on November 19, 2020. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  12. ^ Visitor Center information Archived November 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Sociedad de Astronomia del Caribe". www.sociedadastronomia.com. Archived from the original on May 5, 2014. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  14. ^ Altschuler, Daniel; Salter, Chris (June 2014). "Early history of Arecibo Observatory". Physics Today. 67 (6): 12. Bibcode:2014PhT....67f..12A. doi:10.1063/PT.3.2402.
  15. ^ January 24; 2007. "Tor Hagfors, astronomy professor and Arecibo pioneer, dies at age 76". Cornell Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 20, 2020. Retrieved November 20, 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Christiansen, Jen. "Pop Culture Pulsar: The Science Behind Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures Album Cover". Scientific American Blog Network. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  17. ^ a b Watson, Traci (November 2015). "Arecibo Observatory director quits after funding row". Nature. 527 (7577): 142–143. Bibcode:2015Natur.527..142W. doi:10.1038/nature.2015.18745. PMID 26560275.

Further reading

External links

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