"Arecibo Radio Telescope" by Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz / CC BY-SA 4.0

Legendary Arecibo telescope will close forever — scientists are reeling

Nov 20, 2020

By Alexandra Witze

One of astronomy’s most renowned telescopes — the 305-metre-wide radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico — is closing permanently. Engineers cannot find a safe way to repair it after two cables supporting the structure broke suddenly and catastrophically, one in August and one in early November.

It is the end of one of the most iconic and scientifically productive telescopes in the history of astronomy — and scientists are mourning its loss.

“I don’t know what to say,” says Robert Kerr, a former director of the observatory. “It’s just unbelievable.”

“I am totally devastated,” says Abel Méndez, an astrobiologist at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo who uses the observatory.

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