The collapse of the radio telescope of the “great Arecibo observatory” located in Puerto Rico at the beginning of last December had the effect of a bomb as much for the community of astronomers and astrophysicists as for the general public.
The 900-tonne platform indeed crashed to the ground following the rupture of the two cables supporting it. A very sad news after more than fifty years of research and scientific investigations carried out thanks to this installation.
Recently, the Governor of Puerto Rico Wanda Vázquez Garced announced the release of a budget of 8 million US dollars to rebuild it. An amount which, despite everything, will only be enough to launch the reconstruction process since the estimate for a complete reconstruction is estimated at more than 300 million dollars.
An opportunity to redesign the Arecibo observatory
“ To continue making such important progress for humanity, we lack an instrument like the one we had. We must rebuild (…) ”, declared the director of the Observatory.
Governor Wanda Vazquez also seems rather optimistic about this disaster. " Considering the recommendations of the scientific community for a more efficient radio telescope, the collapse [of the Arecibo radio telescope] offers an excellent opportunity to redesign it (…) " she underlined.
Especially since Arecibo has contributed a lot to science. For example, it was thanks to him that the first indirect evidence of gravitational waves was detected in 1974. Eighteen years later, the first exoplanets were discovered.
It is also an important source of foreign currency for Puerto Rico, as 100,000 tourists visit the site each year.
For a new, more modern and durable radio telescope
Since this disaster, a petition for its reconstruction has been sent to the White House. The document has so far received more than 100,000 signatures to solicit financial support for a redesign, reconstruction and operation once returned to service.
On the side of the Puerto Rican authorities, an amount of 8 million dollars was recently released through an executive decree aimed first at removing the rubble caused by the collapse of the telescope as well as studying the design of a new platform.
The objective is to adapt Arecibo to the current context and to rebuild it in order to modernize it.