Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory Expected to Reopen This Week


The Arecibo Observatory, located on Puerto Rico’s north coast and the site of one of the world’s largest radio telescopes, will reopen this week after a review undertaken as a result of the earthquake that hit the northern part of the Caribbean island last week, officials said Sunday, The Latin American Herald Tribune reports.
“What we’re inspecting is a cable that suffered some kind of damage. The cable is one of the ones that supports the telescope … which is very heavy,” Carlos Padin, chancellor of the island’s Metropolitan University, told Efe.
The radio telescope’s facilities were closed last Thursday after inspectors from New York’s Ammann & Whitney Bridge Construction, who have been tasked with inspecting the Arecibo observatory site since 1972, took a close look at the facility.
The magnitude-6.4 earthquake occurred at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 13 and its epicenter was located under the ocean 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of Arecibo and 98 kilometers (61 miles) northwest San Juan.
The observatory is administered by the Metropolitan University, which forms part of the Ana G. Mendez University System, or SUAGM, in conjunction with SRI International and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA).
“The inspectors found that the cable did not suffer in any significant way, but as a preventive and safety measure the test will be performed. Tomorrow they will do a test to determine if the the damage is superficial and on Wednesday the observatory will reopen,” Padin said, adding that this type of inspection is also conducted after hurricanes hit the island.
With a single curved dish with a diameter of 305 meters (about 1,000 feet), the radio telescope is visited annually by thousands of tourists and its facilities are used by hundreds of scientists, especially on projects connected with planetary astronomy and atmospheric studies.
The radio waves collected by the gigantic dish are captured by 12 antennae that are attached to a 900-ton platform suspended by heavy steel cables some 150 meters (about 500 feet) above the dish.

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