Washington D.C. – The Resident Commissioner in Washington, Jenniffer González, and the Democratic congressmen Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy have asked the Congressional Appropriations committees authorize funds that allow the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore options to keep the Arecibo Observatory, whose telescope is damaged.
The three federal lawmakers sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations committees after the NSF determined that August damage to two telescope cables will prevent its rebuilding.
According to the NSF, the repairs that the radio telescope needs cannot be carried out without putting at risk the safety of construction workers and the personnel of the Observatory itself, which has been a world reference for research on radio astronomy, planets, solar systems and geospatial .
“Although there is no final assessment of the cost of demolishing the telescope, we understand that the funds can be used to stabilize the structure and work immediately on the necessary repairs,” the federal legislators indicated, in the letter to the chairpersons of the committees, Congresswoman Nita Lowey (New York), and Senator Richard Shelby (Alabama), as well as to minority leaders, Congresswoman Kay Granger (Texas) and Patrick Leahy (Vermont).
The Observatory is administered by the University of Central Florida (UCF).
The NSF announced Thursday that as soon as possible, they will begin the dismantling and “controlled demolition” of the telescope, one of the largest in the world.
The platform is suspended by support cables connected to three towers. Two of them collapsed on August 10 and November 6.
According to the NSF, the three engineering companies found that the radio telescope structure is in danger of “catastrophic failure” and that its cables may no longer be able to withstand the loads for which they were designed. Additionally, various evaluations concluded that any attempted repair could put workers in “life-threatening danger.”