Midnight In The Desert — Arecibo

Arecibo Observatory Dish Sustained Serious Damage from Maria

Posted by K R on

Arecibo Observatory Dish Sustained Serious Damage from Maria

Articles on the National Geographic and Space.com websites report that scientists and Amateur Radio operators have confirmed that Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory came through Hurricane Maria largely intact but “with some significant damage.” Universities Space Research Association (USRA), which helps to operate the Observatory, said it learned via “short wave radio contact” that staff and family members sheltering at Arecibo are safe. “The major structures, including the 300-meter telescope, are intact, though suffered some damage when the atmospheric radar line feed broke off, and falling debris from it punctured the dish in several places,” USRA reported on its website. “Also,...

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Arecibo Observatory: Watching for Asteroids, Waiting for E.T.

Posted by K R on

Arecibo Observatory: Watching for Asteroids, Waiting for E.T.

Arecibo Observatory, which is in Puerto Rico, is the location of the world's largest single-dish radio telescope. Because radio telescopes can work at all times of day and in all kinds of weather, the observatory operates 24 hours a day. It celebrated its 50th anniversary of work in 2013. Update for Sept. 20, 2017: The Arecibo Observatory is currently closed due to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. While the observatory does a lot of astronomy work, it is perhaps most famous for being the site of the huge Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) message directed at the globular cluster...

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Legendary radio telescope hangs in the balance

Posted by K R on

Legendary radio telescope hangs in the balance

It is the radio telescope that hunts killer asteroids, probes distant cosmic blasts and decades ago sent Earth’s most powerful message to the stars. Yet the storied Arecibo Observatory, an enormous aluminium dish nestled in a Puerto Rican sinkhole, might soon find itself out of the science game. The US National Science Foundation (NSF), which owns the observatory, wants to offload the facility to free up money for newer ones. In the coming weeks, it will ask for ideas about how Arecibo might be managed if the NSF reduces its current US$8.2-million annual contribution. By May, the agency plans to...

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If We Want to Find Aliens, We Need to Save the Arecibo Telescope

Posted by K R on

If We Want to Find Aliens, We Need to Save the Arecibo Telescope

Astronomers have been scanning the cosmos for signs of intelligent life for more than half a century, and not only have they found jack shit, but they've hardly investigated the places where aliens might be hanging out. It's not for lack of trying—it's just that there are too many places to look. Luckily for people involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), telescope technology has improved so drastically in the last few decades that some astronomers think we'll make first contact with alien life within 20 years. Those strides are, in part, owed to one of the most important...

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World's Largest Radio Telescope Faces a Troubling Future

Posted by K R on

World's Largest Radio Telescope Faces a Troubling Future

One of the world’s most iconic astronomy sites, Puerto Rico’s giant Arecibo Observatory, may be facing the end of its era. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the primary funder of Arecibo—which is the largest existing radio telescope and was featured in the movies Contactand GoldenEye, among others—is holding public meetings on June 7 to “evaluate potential environmental effects of proposed changes to operations at Arecibo Observatory,” according to an NSF announcement. Because those proposed changes include the option of shutting down the 305-meter dish telescope altogether, officials will likely get an earful about more than air quality and groundwater. Defenders...

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