Arecibo Observatory …. ” 💫 ‘The End of an Era? …. Maybe, Hopefully Not! 💫 …. “!!

Se~~December 1, 2020~~


I have posted about the Arecibo Observatory, located in Puerto Rico, several times. This is an institution, a scientific and research station for the world. This was a location where several movies were shot. Most of all, this is Puerto Rican pride.

The installation opened opened its doors on November 1, 1963. I was 13 years old at the time. Plenty of school fields trips and visits as an adult were planned and completed. This is a staple in my life.

Years of the usual governmental decay, politics, natural disasters – Hurricane María and the earthquakes in early 2020 lead to significant damage. There were requests made for emergency funds to repair the damage that was reported and documented

Early this morning, very sad to report, the platform collapsed!

Here are some views!



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

The main instrument of the observatory was the Arecibo Telescope, a 305 m (1,000 ft) spherical reflector dish built into a natural sinkhole, a cable-mount steerable receiver mounted 150 m (492 ft) above the dish, and several radar transmitters for emitting signals. For more than 50 years, the Arecibo Telescope was the world’s largest single-aperture telescope, surpassed in July 2016 by the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in China. The Observatory also includes a radio telescope, a Lidar facility, and a visitor’s center.

The Arecibo Telescope was primarily used for research in radio astronomy, atmospheric science, and radar astronomy, as well as for programs that search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).


~This catastrophic scenario is something the NSF feared might happen~

On November 19th, the agency announced that the remaining cables at Arecibo ran the risk of failing, which could lead to the platform’s collapse.

Knowing this was imminent, NSF said it planned to demolish Arecibo in a controlled manner, concluding that there was no safe way to save the observatory. Managers had evacuated the facility and set up a “safety exclusion zone” to keep people away.

~Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico collapses as engineers feared~

The telescope’s 900-ton platform came crashing down overnight. The massive Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico collapsed in on itself overnight. The catastrophic failure had been predicted by engineers after the telescope suffered two major cable malfunctions over the last couple of months, risking the integrity of the observatory’s entire structure.

Pictures of Arecibo surfaced online this morning, revealing that the massive 900-ton platform that is normally suspended above the observatory was no longer there.

The National Science Foundation, which oversees Arecibo, confirmed to The Verge that the platform did come crashing down onto the telescope’s giant 1,000-foot-wide dish. No injuries have been reported, according to the agency.

~The collapse comes at the end of a difficult period for Arecibo~

In August, the observatory suffered its first major malfunction, when an auxiliary cable came loose from its socket and fell onto the observatory’s dish, punching a large hole in the structure.

At the time, NSF and the University of Central Florida, which oversees day-to-day operations at Arecibo, vowed to investigate the failure and fix the damage in order to get the observatory up and running again.

But as engineers were figuring out a path forward for repairs, a second main cable failed on November 6th. This time, the cable snapped and also fell onto Arecibo’s giant dish, causing damage to other cables nearby.

Engineers found that the other cables could not be guaranteed to hold. The NSF concluded that Arecibo would eventually collapse if no actions were taken; they just didn’t know when the collapse might occur. The agency had hoped to demolish the structure before it took place.

The NSF’s decision to tear down Arecibo was met with a lot of pushback from fans of the telescope. Arecibo has been a major beacon of opportunity in Puerto Rico as well as an incredible asset for peering into the cosmos.

The observatory has been used to identify distant exotic objects like pulsars as well as to listen for mysterious blasts of radio waves coming from the distant Universe. Scientists also used Arecibo in 1974 to send out a picture message out into the cosmos, detailing humanity’s achievements for anyone that might be listening. Arecibo has also made numerous cameos in television and film, including GoldenEye and Contact.

Not wanting to see the observatory demolished, a Puerto Rican scientist launched a petition on to urge the NSF to repair Arecibo.

As of today, the petition has more than 36,000 signatures.


(Today, I read, signed and shared this petition!)



NSF is saddened by this development,” the agency tweeted about the collapse. “As we move forward, we will be looking for ways to assist the scientific community and maintain our strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico.”NSF is saddened by this development,” the agency tweeted about the collapse. “As we move forward, we will be looking for ways to assist the scientific community and maintain our strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico.”



Top photo shows the towers without the platform. Bottom photo shows the Observatory in all its glory.

Photos by Deborah Martorell


On November 19, the National Science Foundation announced the decommissioning and controlled demolition of the Arecibo Observatory 305-meter radio telescope, due to safety concerns after the rupture of two cables. The telescope houses the world’s most powerful planetary radar system, responsible for critical follow-up observations of asteroids.

The telescope structure includes 20 tons of lead counterweights. Its demolition or unplanned collapse presents the potential of an environmental emergency as it lies on top of an aquifer and would affect the nearby population.

We urge emergency action to have the Army Corps of Engineers or another agency evaluate the telescope structure and search for a safe way to stabilize it, to provide time for other actions to be considered and carried out.

~~Published January 23, 2014~~

The Arecibo Observatory is a radio telescope in the municipality of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. This observatory is operated by SRI International, USRA and UMET, under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF).

This observatory is also called the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, although “NAIC” refers to both the observatory and the staff that operates it. From its construction in the 1960s until 2011, the observatory was managed by Cornell University.

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About Dr. Rex

I'm originally from Puerto Rico. I was born in Santurce and raised in Rio Piedras. Have lived in Florida since 1999. I have a doctorate degree in Medicine; completed in 1976. My Internal Medicine specialty was completed in 1979. Worked for Puerto Rico's health system until 1985. At this time, I'm happily retired after working for the federal government for almost 28yrs. I want to offer any knowledge that I have to anyone "out there" who is interested. My views are liberal in almost every sense. My knowledge is "eclectic" - a bit of everything. Music and reading are my passion. Blogging has also become a very interesting endeavor. Metaphysical topics attract me. I'm interested in news reporting human issues like injustice, discrimination and abuse - the "wrongly" affected. My intention is to bring this knowledge to an understandable level and to help anyone in need. I'm open to questions and will answer them to the best of my ability. Currently working on an enterprise whose main mission will be to bring peoples of all walks of life together. To be one .... since we ALL are ONE!! The future looks bright and promising!!!

5 thoughts on “Arecibo Observatory …. ” 💫 ‘The End of an Era? …. Maybe, Hopefully Not! 💫 …. “!!

    • You are so correct!! I hadn’t been there fir a while. I think Hurricane Maria was very damaging, then the earthquakes. I have no doubt that maintaining it was lax. I’ve been sad all day … 😢😢


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