What's Happening?

The Observatory is decommissioned

On November 19, 2020, at 11:30 a.m. EST, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the decommissioning and controlled demolition of the Arecibo Observatory 305-meter radio telescope, due to safety concerns after the rupture of two of its support cables. Although it is considered to be necessary for the safety of the workers, there have been no claims about an intention to restore or re-establish the telescope in the long run.

Implications

The decommission of the Arecibo's Observatory de Arecibo has a negative impact on Puerto Rico. Some of these implications are:

  • AO’s decommission means that scientific investigations and projects will be paralyzed and/or cancelled, and jobs will be lost.
  • The education and promotion that the AO offers of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) related fields/careers will cease for the community of Puerto Rico, which impacts heavily the future of our youth.
  • One of Puerto Rico’s biggest tourist attractions will be gone, and with it, most of the profit that small and medium local businesses gain from foreign tourists and locals.
  • Earth’s first line of defense against potentially hazardous asteroids will be shut down, a major loss for the world since we won’t be able to receive a quick warning to this danger.
  • The telescope structure includes 20 tons of lead counterweights. Its demolition or unplanned collapse presents the potential of an environmental emergency as it lies on top of an aquifer and would affect the nearby population and local ecosystems.