Nov. 20, 2020, 6:29 p.m.
New Delhi (Anish Yande): The widely celebrated telescope in Puerto Rico, the Arecibo Telescope, would be shutting down after 57 years of scientific service. The telescope is being dismantled due to an imminent threat of the telescope structure weakening and collapsing. The Arecibo Telescope is a scientific device that is a 305-meter telescope.
On August 10, an auxiliary cable slipped out of its socket and left a mark on the antenna dish below. The cables which supported 900-ton instruments had broken.
Following assessment done by a team of engineers, the US National Science Foundation stated that the telescope would have to be dismantled.
The Arecibo’s Legacy:
One of the earliest scientific discoveries made through the Arecibo Telescope includes the discovery that Mercury rotates in 59 days around its axis. This scientific discovery was made in 1967.
In the year 1974, astronomers Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor used the telescope to discover a pair of pulsars that were orbiting each other.
In the same year, the Arecibo telescope became the focus for the organization, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.
SETI director Frank Drake attempted to contact extraterrestrial intelligence through the Arecibo Telescope. Drake sent a complex system of codes via beaming a 20-trillion-watt message toward M13. M13 is a cloud system of 300,000 stars, which are approximately 25,000 light-years from Earth.
The famous scientist, Carl Sagan, was also involved in the project. The code included 1,679 zeros and ones that formed images of the solar system, stick man, a DNA helix, the radio telescope, among many other objects.
The Arecibo Telescope Remembered:
The telescope was featured in the James Bond film, GoldenEye, and the film Contact. Scientists and visitors to the Arecibo are shocked and saddened by the news. Twitter users used the hashtag “WhatAreciboMeansToMe”, and sent out messages of sadness and shock through the microblogging site.
Several Twitter users shared precious memories they had at the Arecibo Telescope. Scientists remarked on the removal of the Arecibo telescope, with several stating that the telescope inspired them through their careers.
Image Credit: Google and Wikimedia Commons