back to article America's largest radio telescope blind after falling cable slashes 100-foot gash in reflector dish

America's largest radio telescope, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, has been forced to shut down after a falling cable slashed a 100-foot rent in its 1,000-foot reflector dish. On Tuesday, the University of Central Florida, which helps manage the National Science Foundation facility, said that on Monday, around 02:45 …

  1. oiseau Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Not sure?

    “We’re not sure what caused the cable failure yet ..."

    Hmm ....

    Due to the lack of federal aid, a great deal of Puerto Rico's basic infrastructure is still in ruins after hurricanes Irma and María devastated the island, all made worse by an earthquake in January of this year.

    Could this have also affected Arecibo's maintenance schedules?

    On Trump's watch?

    Nah!

    Im-po-ssi-ble

    A.

    1. TXITMAN

      Re: Not sure?

      TDS much?

      1. DS999

        Re: Not sure?

        Any TDS there is today hardly compares to the ODS you Trumpies had during Obama's term. Not content to criticize everything he does like those with "TDS" do, you even made up conspiracy theories about him being born in Kenya or a secret Muslim.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: Not sure?

          I don't care if Obama is a secret muslim. I want to know if he's a secret lemonade drinker.

          Yours,

          Mr R Whyte

          1. tip pc Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Not sure?

            would wonder what the secret service would think of Mr O creeping downstairs the white house stairs in his slippers and helping himself to a cold bottle of lemonade from the fridge.

            obviously in his wife's dressing gown.

            1. Glen 1 Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Not sure?

              He's been trying to give it up, bit it's been one of those nights...

          2. oldfartuk

            Re: Not sure?

            you were, ofc course, Elvis Costellos father....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not sure?

        Vote DJ Turnip 2020! We need fresh a *fresh* vegetable in the oval office! Clean the fridge!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not sure?

          Instead of the old vegetable, Sleepy Joe?

          1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

            Re: Not sure?

            They are only three years apart. They are both old.

  2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Don't forget...

    There was also that incident in 1995 during which the actions of a rogue MI6 agent resulted in the facility's almost total destruction.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      That incident

      For England, James?

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: That incident

        Then there was that similar incident involving some idiot wearing a scarf, deciding to do a Tarzan impression & was left hanging onto a cable at a dish facility back in the 80's.

        Was there a Blue Police Box anywhere in the vicinity of this incident?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: That incident

          I doubt the budget stretched to a trip to Aracebo, even with a TARDIS. It was most likely Goonhilly, and if not, certainly somewhere in the UK.

      2. Kane Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: That incident

        One click to enable, two clicks to disable.

        1. The Dogs Meevonks

          Re: That incident

          Now that poses a dilemma.... one click to upvote and you explode... 2 clicks and remove the upvote... but at least you live.

      3. Annihilator Silver badge

        Re: That incident

        No, for me.

      4. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: That incident

        No. For me.

    2. diguz

      Re: Don't forget...

      Yes! I am invincible!

      1. 9Rune5 Silver badge

        Re: Don't forget...

        The doofus that wrote the Norwegian subtitles for that movie, got the word "invincible" confused with "invisible".

        Rather confusing to watch.

        1. ShadowDragon8685

          Re: Don't forget...

          Boris would've been luckier to be invisible. Then maybe the filmmakers wouldn't have geeked him.

        2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: Don't forget...

          But so much better!

    3. hoola Bronze badge

      Re: Don't forget...

      I still rate Goldeneye as one of my all time favourite Bond films.

      1. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: Don't forget...

        Same. To me, Goldeneye was the first Bond movie I properly watched and understood, and Brosnan is the definitive 007.

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Don't forget...

          You are evidently too young to have seen the REAL definitive 007 in action: Sean Connery (Brosnan was good, I'll admit).

        2. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Don't forget...

          Shame he had to spoil it a few films later by driving an invisible car and kitesurfing down a glacier. He'd only need to wink at the camera and his channelling Roger Moore would have been complete.

        3. oldfartuk

          Re: Don't forget...

          nonsense, you've come into the canon practically at the end. You need to watch them all in sequence starting with From Russia with Love. Then you'll see Roger Moore captures the essence of the books.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't forget...

      I suspect the "cable" that fell on it was actually the rogue agent.

      1. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: Don't forget...

        25 years is a hell of a long hang-time!

    5. ShadowDragon8685

      Re: Don't forget...

      Goldeneye was the first Bond movie I watched when I was old enough to really comprehend what I was seeing. To me, Brosnan is the definitive Bond.

      1. fobobob

        Re: Don't forget...

        I only watched it for the first time a few months ago, but played the Nintendo 64 game extensively as a child. The faithfulness of the game to the movie is pretty impressive, given its being segmented into discrete missions, and the limitations of the console itself.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alien

    Aliens!!!!!

    They know we are on to them

    Mysterons?

    1. Mongrel

      Re: Aliens!!!!!

      Mysterons always told you what they were going to do, no concept of operational secrecy.

      1. Julz Silver badge

        Re: Aliens!!!!!

        That concept was alien to them.

  4. TXITMAN

    I saw a different headline

    I saw a different headline on /. and wow have they fallen to the level of checkout line tabloid. Thanks El Reg.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I saw a different headline

      Anyone with any sense quit /. for Soylent News a few years ago: https://soylentnews.org/

    2. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Re: I saw a different headline

      I went to /. for the first time in nearly 10 years the other day. While it was nice to go back, not sure I’ll be doing so again anytime soon..

    3. PiltdownMan
      Joke

      Re: I saw a different headline

      Yeah, it was the 100 foot gash that pulled me in, too.

      Reminded me of the lady weight lifter talking about her famous 150 pound snatch.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. RM Myers Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Another Picture

    I was able to find another picture from above that gives a different (and less alarming) view of the damage. Still bad, but this is a huge dish and only a relatively small part was damaged.This was taken by one of the scientists and posted on Twitter. The picture is near the bottom of the article.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/arecibo-observatory-in-puerto-rico-suffers-serious-damage-after-cable-breaks/ar-BB17SYKC

  7. Roger Kynaston Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    Was Jodie Foster spotted there?

    Anyway, I hope the scientists (can they be boffins?) and engineers get it fixed soon.

    1. oldfartuk

      Re: Was Jodie Foster spotted there?

      I would like to point out only the British can be boffins. We devised the word and had Boffins long before even 1940, which marked the Rise of the Boffin. Americans never had Boffins, they only had Whizz Kids or Poindexters.

  8. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Joke

    02:45

    It's a good job radio astronomers don't have to work in the dark - someone might have been hurt!

    1. RM Myers Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: 02:45

      Well one advantage of a radio telescope is the ability to observe day and night, at least when you don't have a big, unplanned hole in the dish. If you do have a hole, that becomes less of an advantage.

  9. steviebuk Silver badge

    Oooo

    has someone been playing Battlefield 4?

    1. The Dogs Meevonks

      Re: Oooo

      It's time to play... Battlefield or Real Life where people post images and you have to guess which is which.

      https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fvignette2.wikia.nocookie.net%2Fbattlefield%2Fimages%2Fd%2Fd1%2FMp_thedish.jpg%2Frevision%2Flatest%3Fcb%3D20151229031556&f=1&nofb=1

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: Oooo

        I miss that map. I think it was BF3 I have a great memory of a bomb run from one of the jets. On a map with a canyon. Came in from a distance and lined up a target. Knowing full well if you get lock on, they get a warning before bombs are dropped.

        I was low enough that I could see the soldier hop out the tank and leg it before the bomb hit. It was amazing to see and is why the game was so great.

  10. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    The search for aliens is suspended?

    I'm always laughing at the search for alien civilizations, we haven't found any - I believe that there are alien civilizations out there, but could it be that there are no aliens out there as stupid as we are? America was going to shut down the Arecibo Observatory, now they are just letting it fall down - another Republican victory.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: The search for aliens is suspended?

      Searching for aliens in suspenders you say? Oooh kinky? Anyway all the best aliens wear leather...

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: The search for aliens is suspended?

        Rock Horror was a suspender-wearing alien ...

        1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge
          Headmaster

          Re: The search for aliens is suspended?

          Up-voted, even though you're not quite correct.

          Rocky Horror was the creation of Frank N Furter, but not an alien.

          The Suspender-wearing alien was Frank (and Riff Raff and Magenta)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Gimp

        Re: The search for aliens is suspended?

        > Searching for aliens in suspenders you say? Oooh kinky? Anyway all the best aliens wear leather...

        ... and come from Phobos

        (Icon says it all)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The search for aliens is suspended?

          Thought they were light blue, have infra-red vision and a binary cardiovascular system?

          Strangely enough my own experiences suggest that they aren't *intentionally* trying to cause an international incident (cough Tic Tac /cough) but are being a lot more careful now and using their stealth device all the time.

          Incidentally the reason there are inconsistencies in many accounts seems that in their low oxygen state they look grey due to the depleted hemocyanin.

    2. oldfartuk

      Re: The search for aliens is suspended?

      I also believe there are alien civilizations, but after we produced the Clintons, they concluded all crooked lawyers must be married to sex pests, and decided to move onto the next Galaxy

      Space Clinton - "I did not have electromagnetic interactions with that galaxy".

  11. Dvon of Edzore

    Why such limited photo coverage?

    Interesting that there are no photos of the warped beam-steering mechanism or receiver dome where the more important damage occurred, nor good identification of exactly what the failed cable was used for. Perhaps they fear if the extent of the damage were made public there would be more calls to abandon this relic and direct the funds into more up-to-date instruments since the 2017 hurricane damage has not been fully repaired either.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Why such limited photo coverage?

      Relic? Ok, it's listed in the US Heritage register, and not sure if that's like the UK's listing and creates obligations to keep it in good order. And I'm curious if it really is a relic. From a quick look at the wiki article, it seems to have suffered from various funding cuts from NASA, NSF etc. It's not entirely clear exactly how much it costs to operate, but still seems to be doing useful science.

      I've no idea what 'upgrade' costs would be though given one fundamental cost would seem to be finding a location for, and building a newer/bigger dish. Which may be a political thing, ie building something bigger than China's FAST for bragging rights. Curious if big dishes are really considered relics by radio and radar astronomers though.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Why such limited photo coverage?

        In radio you can generally add together lots of dishes for the same area.

        The Square Km Array is quite big (0.05milliWales) and has the advantage of being steerable and being much more modern technology.

  12. mleonard

    A few more detailed pictures here, hopefully it doesn't take too long to repair: https://www.naic.edu/~phil/hardware/telescope/auxmain200810/photos/

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Thanks for that link. I hadn't appreciated that one of the main stays had failed. It's a bit concerning that maintenance inspections didn't give warning of a failure at the anchor [pic] in advance.

  13. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    I blame ...

    .... Luke Skywalker. That dish made the Earth look too much like a death star.

  14. Cynic_999 Silver badge
    Joke

    Relic

    It only detects a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Surely we should be looking on the subspace channels? Aliens would suely be using the hailing frequency? A detector for quantum entangled neutrinos would in any case be far smaller. Especially if it used blockchains in the cloud.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Relic

      Reversing the polarity should easily fix the damage. And also increase it's sensitivity ten fold at the same time. I always wondered why Kirk / Picard / Janeway never applied those easy fixes in port before starting out?

  15. Anon

    Breaking glass

    They should have made the the cables as strong as the Unknown Pleasures album - it was pressed into vinyl about twice the thickness of a regular LP.

  16. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
    Alien

    Yeah, sure.

    Clearly our alien overlords are causing a distraction whilst they continue their plans to arrive in strength to take over the world.

    Boy, will they get a shock when they see the state of the place.

    They'll shake their heads or whatever they have and turn back pronto.

  17. Dave559 Bronze badge

    Hammock

    Oh, I'm surprised to see from the photo that the dish is essentially a giant "hammock" and is suspended a few metres above the ground. I'd always had the impression from somewhere that it was carved out of or cast into a natural depression directly on the ground, sort of like a giant skateboard park. oops!

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