End of service for the giant Arecibo radio telescope

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It is a monument – in every sense of the word – of astrophysics that is going to be demolished. Arecibo’s giant radio telescope in Puerto Rico, also famous in popular culture, as it has appeared in many films, such as “Goldeneye” or “Contact with Jodie Foster, cannot be repaired.” The rupture of two support cables got the better of him.

A 305-meter-diameter satellite dish suspended above the Puerto Rican jungle.

Commissioned in 1963, the Arecibo radio telescope remained the world’s largest until 2016, and the completion of a another giant of 500 meters in diameter in China.

It was the rupture of two support cables, one in August and the other on November 6, which got the better of the machine. The colossal damage to the dish is too complicated and too dangerous to repair.

The radio telescope will therefore be destroyed, after the decision of the American Science Foundation.

His disappearance will leave a great void in the scientific community as his career was so successful. It is to him that we owe the first detection of exoplanets. It was a valuable tool for studying pulsars, stars that emit regular radio signals. More recently, NASA was using it to detect asteroids threatening to strike Earth.

Gigantic radio antenna, able to receive, but also to transmit, Arecibo had been used to send a message intended for hypothetical extraterrestrials, in 1974. It will therefore be destroyed, without ever having received a response.

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