There was a hole in astronomy when the Arecibo Observatory collapsed.
Arecibo was the best telescope on the planet for 50 years. It listened to radio signals from the stars, as well as from pulsars, planets, asteroids and more, for any hints of intelligent life, potentially Earth- killing objects and insights into the mysteries of gravity and space-time.
Puerto Rico's pride and economy have been hit by hurricanes, earthquakes and widespread electrical outages. Since 1963, when the telescope was founded, generations of children have traveled through the hills to a sci-fi setting: a gigantic, concave antenna, set like a mixing bowl in a mountain valley, with 900 tons of radio receiver suspended above it. Young students could be inspired by science at work. People who grew up being astronomer themselves.
The trips will go on. The National Science Foundation said last week that it would spend $5 million on an educational center at the Arecibo Observatory. The ngel Ramos Science and Visitor Center would be part of the Arecibo Center for STEM Education and Research.
There will be no telescope. The National Science Foundation said last week that the plan doesn't include rebuilding the 305-meter telescope or operational support for current scientific infrastructure.
Dan Werthimer, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, who had used the telescope throughout his career to search for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations, was upset by the decision not to rebuild. He stated that Arecibo was his favorite telescope.
The people of Puerto Rico are going through a difficult time. They were proud and happy with the Arecibo telescope.
There was a sense of loss in the astronomy community.
The N.S.F. announced last Thursday that it planned to turn the facility into a mainlySTEM education side and curtail almost all of the science. Many people who have used the instrument have been disconcerted by the turn of events.
The National Science Foundation was accused of replacing the telescope with a school by a headline in The Register.
The National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center was originally built to study the properties of objects such as warheads tumbling through the atmosphere. It was a symbol of curiosity and optimism for a long time. Jodie Foster is an astronomer who discovers a communication signal from outer space in the film "Contact" and as the villain in the film "Goldeneye."
The ripples in space-time that had been predicted by Einstein were observed by the radio astronomy team who won a prize for their work. NASA tracked and bounced radar off potential killer asteroids.
The DART mission was able to demonstrate that an asteroid could be diverted when it hit a small asteroid. The data on 191 asteroids examined by the Arecibo radar was published in October.
Valuable information on the sizes and other properties of potentially hazardous asteroids was revealed by the observations.
Shrinking budgets and insufficient maintenance took their toll.
In November 2020, a cable holding the 900-ton platform of radio receiver in the air snapped, leaving the instruments dangling perilously. Nature prevented the National Science Foundation from taking the telescope down. The platform came crashing down on the morning of December 1, 2020 after the last cables snapped.
They were devastated. Science is meaningless if it isn't resilient. Scientists worked together to figure out how to repair or replace the telescope before it collapsed.
The paper was submitted to the National Academy of Sciences as part of a survey of astronomy priorities.
China has recently built an even bigger radio telescope, the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, but giant dishes have mostly gone out of style in radio astronomy, in favor of array of much smaller dishes that can collect the same amount of radio energy but in a The Arecibo antenna was fixed to the ground, but the N.G.A.T. team had a different idea of how the Arecibo antenna should look.
The N.G.A.T. had a list of subjects that could be studied if the telescope were rebuilt.
The capabilities will vastly increase the user base of the facility and enable cutting-edge science for decades to come according to the authors.
The best place for a telescope like the one proposed by the N.G.A.T. team would be in a desert, not in Puerto Rico. The moral debt to Puerto Rico is the most important one.
The proposal came with a price tag of $450 million, a load for the National Science Foundation, which is also fielding requests to invest billions in gravitational wave detectors, a pair of giant optical ground-based telescopes, and other ambitious projects that would help American researchers keep pace with the rest of the
An official with the National Science Foundation said the government had other instruments that could fulfill some of the duties of the old telescope.
The lead author of the N.G.A.T. proposal questioned whether it was wise to establish a center for science, technology, engineering and math at Arecibo without an engineering school.
In the solicitation for proposals issued by the foundation, Dr. Roshi said that part is almost completely missing.
He said that whoever won the contract to run the new educational center would determine if there was any chance of rebuilding the telescope or reviving the research program.
The observatory and the larger scientific community should use this opportunity to strengthen the effort to rebuild the telescope and avoid destroying the observatory and other research activities currently underway.
This might be the end of an era. The astronomer Frank Drake, who used the telescope to look for extraterrestrial signals, died a month after the announcement of the telescope's demise.
Cash and cables are used for optimism. There is no good idea if it is a robot on Mars or a telescope in space.