Puerto Rico invests $8 million to rebuild Arecibo telescope
The Arecibo Observatory's emblematic radio telescope collapsed in early December 2020.
In late 2020, the collapse of the Arecibo Observatory's radio telescope represented an immeasurable material and cultural loss for Puerto Rico's scientific and educational community. The telescope had been a great tourist attraction for the island, and it is known worldwide as one of the largest and most important, in addition to the numerous discoveries that this structure has allowed.
The 60-year-old telescope withstood the wear and tear of time until last August a support cable broke, causing a 100-meter-long crack in the dish. Then at the beginning of November a second support cable broke, leaving the 900 ton platform held by an auxiliary cable and several secondary ones.
The governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vasquez, has now signed an executive order approving an $8 million budget to help rebuild the radio telescope. Although the budget allocated is not enough to carry out the whole reconstruction, it is a first step to remove the debris and study its reconstruction.
Rebuilding the telescope is important as a matter of "public policy" and the re-establishment of the Observatory as a "world-class educational center," the Vasquez office said.
The NSF (National Science Foundation) stated to Engadget that the process for funding and rebuilding this type of structure has a well-established procedure and that it may take years since an assessment of the needs of the scientific community must first be made, in addition to taking into account receiving input from researchers and other stakeholders, considering environmental and cultural impacts, and working with Congress.
The hope is that other American institutions will get involved and collaborate in the reconstruction of this important space for the scientific community.