The observatory was completed in 1963 and was the largest radio telescope in the world for several decades. Over the decades, the Arecibo Observatory has made numerous astronomical discoveries possible. The observatory was shown to a larger audience in the 1995 James Bond film “Golden Eye”.
The collapse was on Tuesday morning, but yesterday the NSF made video of the catastrophic collapse available, and so many viewers asked I continue my long tradition of ‘coping by analyzing failure’ and document what I see in this footage.
The newly released drone footage opens on already-snapped cables, then shows the failure of additional cables: first slow, then faster, with paint chips flying as individual wires within the thick bundles give way.
Once all the cables at that tower snap, the triangular metal platform lumbers down to hit the opposite side of the dish, pulling off the tips of the other two supporting towers as it goes.
During the news conference, officials emphasized their commitment to the telescope throughout the difficult autumn, the telescope’s dire precarity after the second cable failure, and their gratitude that no one was injured during the collapse.
The agency had authorized spending on evaluating and stabilizing the structure soon after the August failure on the condition that human safety remained top priority at the site.
Preparations for repairs to the first cable failure were underway when the second cable snapped, and staff were exploring potential stabilizing approaches when the telescope collapsed.