Mar 9, 2021 - Science

The end of the iconic Arecibo telescope telescope

The Arecibo Observatory seen by a satellite. Photo: Planet Labs Inc.
The Arecibo Observatory seen by a satellite. Photo: Planet Labs Inc.

It will take between $30 million and $50 million to clean up the damage caused by the uncontrolled collapse of the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, according to a new report from the National Science Foundation.

Why it matters: The telescope — which collapsed in December 2020 — was key to many scientific discoveries, including the search for life and other planets in the universe, during its decades of use.

Details: The new report details the damage caused by the telescope's collapse.

  • The science platform and the Gregorian dome are a "complete loss for scientific purposes," and the observatory's Learning Center sustained "significant damage" to its roof, with other structures also damaged, according to the report.
  • Officials are still working to figure out exactly what brought the telescope down, and the engineering firms that are conducting the evaluation are expected to deliver their final reports by December.

What's next: It's not yet clear whether the telescope will be rebuilt, but science is continuing.

  • "Current scientific activities have been focused on restoring immediate scientific productivity, including prioritizing those technologies that are already operational and those funded for restoration using normal operations and maintenance funds," the NSF said in the report.
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