The collapse of the iconic radio telescope Arecibo Observatory In Puerto Rico last month, it prompted astronomers to have a lot of questions about what went wrong and what happened next.
During the virtual town hall event held at the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Monday (11 Jan), officials at the National Science Foundation (NSF), who own the facility, presented the proposal. Tells the most detailed events to date that lead to The uncontrolled collapse of the telescope On December 1st
The event was the agency’s first presentation aimed at researchers since the plant collapsed, and officials highlighted their involvement. Scientists around the world who have ties to Arecibo“We at the NSF are very grateful that the safety zone was sufficient and no one was injured physically,”; said Ashley Zauderer, director of the Arecibo Observatory program at NSF, during the presentation.
Related: The loss of the Arecibo observatory creates a hole that cannot be filled, scientists say.
“I said ‘physical harm’ because we wanted to clearly communicate that we understood this was a traumatic event and it affected a lot of people,” Zauderer said.
Zauderer’s comments focus on giving astronomers in detail the events surrounding the collapse, with a timeline beginning in 2017 when Hurricanes Irma and Maria Puerto Rico scandalous The plant is preparing to begin repairs due to damage that occurred when cables failed in August. (Hurricane repair includes the replacement of other cables connected to the support tower other than the cable that eventually failed when the collapse situation unfolded.)
But before the dawn of August 10, a large cable carrying the 900-ton science platform fell out of the socket. The engineer assessed the situation, determined how the structure should be stabilized, and began planning a repair strategy. Meanwhile, investigations of what went wrong had also begun, Zauderer said.
“The failed socket was stripped and sent to the NASA Kennedy laboratory for proof in early October to try to understand why it failed and help us understand what other sockets were missing.” There are risks as well, ”she said.
Once again, repair plans came along and the facility prepared to start work for another disaster when another cable stranded to the same tower collapsed on Nov. 6 from a second failure, NSF concluded. That there is no safe way to reach Stabilize or rescue the place And began to evaluate how to dismantle the telescope in a controlled manner, the decision was announced on November 19, although Zauderer told the collected astronomers that the NSF still had hope.
Related: Puerto Rican scientists mourn the loss of the Arecibo Observatory’s iconic telescope.
“Even though we said we were planning to be discharged at that point, we would still need additional information, such as if new information is available that there is a safe way to fix the telescope, we are ready to replace it,” she said. .
That change is not possible. The platform collapsed through a dish 1,000 feet (305 m) below it on Dec. 1, destroying a radio telescope.
“It’s not what we want,” Zauderer said. “NSF has been working very hard since August to launch a stabilization plan.”
The future of the site is not yet known, though. Congress joined astronomers And Puerto Ricans in asking for updates on the facility – what happened, what the NSF wants to do with the observatory and its associated cost estimates – by the end of February. The request is part of the file. Bus tickets that give money to agencies Throughout this fiscal year that will end on Sept. 30, Ralph Gaume, director of the NSF’s Division of Astronomy Science, referred to Parliament’s request during the town hall. But it did not give details of how the NSF would take action.
Zauderer told Space.com that the team began evaluating how to safely clean the site on the day of the collapse. “Work is going on with enthusiasm. But it will take a long time due to the amount of debris and the need for safe action and with appropriate environmental protection measures, ”she wrote.
But Zauderer noted during the presentation that the collapse did not completely destroy the radio telescope’s iconic dish. “About 50% of the reflector remains,” she said. “We are looking at this point, weighing the pros and cons. Of maintaining the new building parts or things that can be done with “
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