Reduced, but unsurpassed: Published a rescue plan for the Arecibo Observatory

2.5 years have passed since the Arecibo Observatory accident, and the future location of the famous radio telescope is still in limbo. Now the astronomers of the observatory have clarified their plans for Arecibo’s successor, reducing its scale.

Arecibo Observatory after the collapse of the platform. Source: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP

It would seem that such changes were the result of insufficient funding. According to the publication Science, even before the destruction of the telescope in December 2020, the National Science Foundation was trying to reduce the cost of supporting this huge observatory. 

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico was an essential component of the United States radio telescope infrastructure for 57 years until it was destroyed. A huge 900-ton telescope platform fell on the antenna due to the breakage of the support cables, causing significant damage to the 300-meter telescope.

Problems with the cables began long before the destruction, and already before that, the National Science Foundation decided that it was necessary to reduce funding, or even completely close the project. However, the destruction of infrastructure was unexpected for officials. Last October, the National Science Foundation abruptly announced plans to create an educational center on the site of the destroyed telescope aimed at STEM education, scheduled to open in 2023. Despite the fact that the year 2023 has already arrived, the foundation is still accepting proposals for this educational center.

A smaller but unsurpassed observatory

In an article published on the arXiv preprint server last month, a team of astronomers, including Anish Roshi, the head of radio astronomy at Arecibo, proposed the idea of creating a next-generation Arecibo Telescope (NGAT) that could be made with a grid of antennas that would tilt.

Arecibo Observatory after the collapse of the platform. Source: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP

Instead of one huge 300-meter dish, the plan provides a cost-effective alternative with a diameter of 130 to 175 meters. The total weight of the proposed NGAT will be 4,300 tons. The team claims that the performance of the proposed telescope “will surpass all other radar systems and single-antenna devices”.

Regardless of what will replace Arecibo, it will certainly no longer have such a scale. Despite the fact that the observatory has been destroyed, its accumulated data is still being used for new research. We hope that its successor will meet scientific needs and help in scientific observations.

Earlier we reported on how a message was sent from Arecibo to extraterrestrial civilizations.

According to Gizmodo

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