The National Science Foundation (NSF) will be abolished Arecibo ObservatoryAuthorities announced today (November 19) that a huge radio telescope after damage would be too dangerous to repair the facility.
The presentation came as a scientist Waiting for a verdict on the fate of the iconic observatory After damaging the complex cables that support the 900-ton science platform suspended on a plate. August, Cable slipped out of socketHowever, engineers assessing the situation considered it stable. Earlier this month The second cable was unexpectedly broken, Leaving the fate of Arecibo much more dangerous. After reviewing three separate engineering reports, the property-owning NSF determined that the facility was unstable enough. There is no way to repair the damage It does not put personnel at excessive risk.
“Our goal is Save the telescope “No one’s safety is at stake,” Sean Jones, assistant director of NSF’s Department of Mathematical Physics, said at a press conference today. “But after an engineering evaluation, we don’t see such a path. We allow you to do so safely. And if decision-making is delayed, the entire facility is at risk of uncontrollable collapse. We know that people and additional facilities are unnecessarily endangered. “
Relation: Scientists say that losing the Arecibo Observatory creates holes that cannot be filled.
“Telescopes are now at serious risk of unexpected and uncontrollable collapse,” said Ralph Gorme, director of NSF’s astronomical sciences department. “According to engineering evaluations, trying to stabilize or test cables can accelerate catastrophic failures. Engineers don’t tell us the safety margins for structures, but in the near future, structures I advise NSF that things will collapse naturally. ”
Safety concerns are imminent
At a press conference, officials said the decision was based on safety first. Scientific research What Arecibo has done or may continue to do over the last few decades, and the loss of some expected science in the facility.
“This decision has nothing to do with the scientific benefits of the Arecibo Observatory,” Gaume said. “It’s not a consideration. It’s all about safety.”
Guam added that the institution will work with scientists planning to use the Arecibo telescope and other facilities to relocate planned research projects as much as possible. However, the facility was unique, especially in the research-heavy radar function. Near-Earth asteroid And other solar system objects.
“Some of the Arecibo science will move, but some will not,” Gorme said.
Authorities also need to use other assets of the Arecibo Observatory, primarily visitor centers, on-site atmospheric scientific equipment, and a second atmospheric tool on the adjacent island of Culebra, if the telescope can be abolished in a controlled manner. I emphasized that there is. Survive.
The threat of collapse is the challenge of decommissioning
Both cables that failed at Arecibo were connected to the same support tower. An engineering analysis completed after the failure of the second cable in November found that if the other cable in that tower, called Tower 4, failed, the platform could collapse into a dish and the tower could collapse. It was. Also, the cable support system is already so fragile that engineers couldn’t find a way to assess the situation in more detail and safely.
“We are challenging structures that do not understand safety margins, and the engineering approach to better understanding safety margins carries considerable risks, and engineering to repair structures. The approach seems to be very dangerous. “
This means that the situation is unstable enough that NSF cannot guarantee that the telescope will be deprecated in a controlled manner. Gaume and Ashley Zauderer, program directors at the NSF Arecibo Observatory, said the agency had hired engineers to plan a controlled decommissioning. They added that it would take weeks to develop the plan and gather the necessary approvals for it.
Authorities also mentioned that helicopters and explosives could be considered, but refused to provide an idea of what the strategy would be.
In connection with the press conference, the NSF provided engineering reports from the company leading the analysis of the Arecibo telescope after the second failure. It provides few details about the fate of the facility.
“I believe that if left untouched, the structure will collapse in the near future,” said John Abruzzo, managing principal of Thornton Tomasetti. “Controlled demolition designed with specific decay sequences determined and implemented using explosives reduces the uncertainty and risk associated with decay.”
The seriousness of the situation is due to both the fact that the two cables have already failed and the way three separate engineering consultants were surprised by the second failure. “The three specialist companies we brought in didn’t provide any input or inking that there was a problem,” Gaume said of the main cable after the August failure.
“I think it’s really a shame that this main cable broke down before things stabilized,” Saudeler said.
NSF officials said their priority is now focused on safely decommissioning satellite dishes and protecting other facilities on the premises as much as possible. But instead of abolishing the entire Arecibo Observatory, they recognize the importance of the facility in Puerto Rico, ensuring in the long run the future of the site and the science it has nurtured over decades. I emphasized that I wanted to. ..
“We’re talking about decommissioning structures made of steel and cables, but it’s really the people who have the idea,” Saudeler said. “It was the idea of discovery and the passion of the people working at the observatory that led to the start of construction … Continue to explore and learn, that is the true heart and soul of Arecibo.”
“It is the people, not the telescope, that are the mind and soul.”
Send an email to Meghan Bartels at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @ meghanbartels.To follow On Twitter @ Spacedotcom and Facebook.
The Arecibo radio telescope, a symbol of astronomy, is lost
Source link The Arecibo radio telescope, a symbol of astronomy, is lost