(ORDO NEWS) — The National Science Foundation announced on Thursday that it will not be rebuilding Puerto Rico’s famous radio telescope, which was destroyed nearly two years ago.
Instead, a bid was published for a $5 million education center that would promote programs and partnerships related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The center is scheduled to open next year in the northern mountain town of Arecibo, where the telescope was once located.
The application does not include operational support for existing infrastructure at the site that is still in use, including a 12-meter radio telescope or lidar facility that probes the upper atmosphere and ionosphere to analyze cloud cover and precipitation data.
The decision upset scientists around the world, who have used the telescope at the Arecibo Observatory for years to search for asteroids, planets and extraterrestrial life.
A reflector dish and a 900-ton platform suspended at a height of 137 meters previously allowed scientists to track asteroids heading for Earth, conduct research that led to the Nobel Prize, and determine whether the planet is potentially habitable.
But all research came to a halt when an auxiliary cable broke in August 2020, punching a 30-meter hole in the dish and damaging the dome above it.
Three months later, the main cable broke, prompting the National Science Foundation to announce in November 2020 that it was shutting down the telescope because the structure was too unstable.
Experts suspect a possible manufacturing error caused the cable to break, but foundation officials said Thursday the investigation is still ongoing.
Sean Jones, assistant director of the National Science Foundation’s Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate, said in a telephone interview that the decision not to refurbish the telescope is partly because the US government has other radar installations that can perform part of the mission that Arecibo once did. .
Contact us: [email protected]