Renowned Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico Endangered by Cable Failures

Staff Consortium | November 16, 2020

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The giant, aging cables that support one of the world’s largest single-dish radio telescopes are slowly unraveling in this U.S. territory, pushing an observatory renowned for its key role in astronomical discoveries to the brink of collapse. The Arecibo Observatory, which is tethered above a sinkhole in Puerto Rico’s lush mountain region, boasts a 1,000-foot-wide (305-meter-wide) dish featured in the Jodie Foster film “Contact” and the James Bond movie “GoldenEye.” The dish and a dome suspended above it have been used to track asteroids headed toward Earth, conduct research that led to a Nobel Prize and helped scientists trying to determine if a planet is habitable. “As someone who depends on Arecibo for my science, I’m frightened. It’s a very worrisome situation right now. There’s a possibility of cascading,…