Arecibo Telescope- Key Points

The Arecibo Observatory is an observatory located in the city of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. It is owned by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the US agency. It is also known as the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center. It was world’s 2nd largest single-dish radio telescope before collapsing recently. China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is the largest single-aperture telescope of the world. It surpassed Arecibo in the year 2016.

Key Points

  • Recently, the observatory telescope collapsed after its 900-ton receiver fell into the Radio Dish.
  • US National Science Foundation announced that the Arecibo collapsed.
  • This particular telescope had enabled several astronomical discoveries since the 1960s.
  • In the year 1967, the telescope discovered that Mercury rotates around its axis in 59 days. Before this, it was thought that Mercury rotates in 88 days. However, Mercury takes 88 days to orbit sun.
  • In 1981, the telescope helped to produce the first radar maps of the surface of Venus. In 1992, the first exoplanet (a planet outside the solar system) was discovered using the telescope.
  • The telescope also played a major role in tracking killer asteroids coming towards Earth.
  • The telescope has also become tourist attraction and sees about 90,000 tourists every year.

What happened with Arecibo Telescope?

The Arecibo telescope had withstood many earthquakes and hurricanes since its formation in 1963 but the condition of the telescope had recently deteriorated. Before the collapse, many experts have pointed out about the condition of the telescope and suggested its controlled demolition. The National Science Federation also announced to decommission the telescope on November 19 in a month but before that the telescope collapsed on its own. The 900 tonnes receiver platform of the telescope collapsed 450 feet into the 1000-feet-wide dish below and smashed it. However, no injuries were reported in the collapse.