Repairs

to the

Arecibo Observatory


On August 10th 2020, one of the Tower 4 auxiliary cables that supports the telescope’s platform experienced a failure that resulted in damage to the telescope’s primary reflector dish and the Gregorian dome. We continue to share updates about the damage and the repairs through community emails as press releases, which you can find below. The AO team is extremely grateful to the continued support we’ve received from the AO community.





  • UCF Press Release (Nov 19, 2020):
    Arecibo Observatory Telescope to be Decommissioned After Second Cable Break

    Management  

    Following a review of engineering assessments, the U.S. National Science Foundation today announced it will begin planning the controlled decommissioning of the 1,000-foot-wide telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The observatory, which UCF manages for NSF under a cooperative agreement, has for 57 years served as a world-class resource for radio astronomy and planetary, solar system and geospace research. But a main cable break on Nov. 6 caused the structural integrity of the telescope to come into question.

  • UCF Press Release (Nov 13, 2020):
    UCF Delivers Engineering Options for Arecibo Observatory (AO)

    Management  

    The University of Central Florida today delivered engineering options to address the Arecibo Observatory to the National Science Foundation. UCF manages the facility under a cooperative agreement with Universidad Ana G. Méndez and Yang Enterprises Inc. for NSF. A main cable failed at AO about 7:30 pm on Nov. 6. Safety remains the team’s primary concern, so a safety zone has been set up around the reflector dish and only personnel needed to respond to the incident are allowed onsite.

  • UCF Press Release (Nov 9, 2020):
    A Second Cable Fails at NSF’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

    Management  

    A main cable that supports the Arecibo Observatory broke Friday at 7:39 p.m. Puerto Rico time. Unlike the auxiliary cable that failed at the same facility on Aug. 10, this main cable did not slip out of its socket. It broke and fell onto the reflector dish below, causing additional damage to the dish and other nearby cables. Both cables were connected to the same support tower. No one was hurt, and engineers are already working to determine the best way to stabilize the structure.

  • Management Update (October 12, 2020) by Director Eng. Francisco Cordova

    Management  

    Ray and I made a commitment to our staff and the User Community to provide periodic updates as the work of restoring the Arecibo Observatory to its full capability advances. We continue to make progress, but the process is slow as we develop a comprehensive plan for facility repairs while prioritizing the safety of our staff. Our staff, as well as external firms that have been hired, are working diligently to understand the cause of the failure and to return the telescope to normal operations as soon as possible.

  • UCF Press Release (Sept 10 2020):
    Update on Arecibo Observatory Facility After Telescope Damage

    Management  

    A detailed structural model of the current state of the entire telescope began Aug. 17 and is expected to be completed within the next two weeks. Today marks 30 days since the Arecibo Observatory went offline, because an auxiliary cable broke and damaged the dish and Gregorian Dome.

  • Management Update (August 28, 2020) by Director Eng. Francisco Cordova

    Management  

    We remain committed to bringing the facility back online as soon as possible. We have been coordinating closely with NSF and NASA, and have established a team that is working on an action plan that focuses on the safety of the staff, and the facility.

  • UCF Press Release (August 11 2020): Broken Cable Damages Arecibo Observatory

    Management  

    One of the auxiliary cables that helps support a metal platform in place above the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, broke on Monday (Aug. 10) causing a 100-foot-long gash on the telescope’s reflector dish. Operations at the UCF-managed observatory are stopped until repairs can be made.

  • Management Update (August 11, 2020) by Director Eng. Francisco Cordova

    Management  

    Early yesterday morning one of the auxiliary cables at tower 4 of the AO experienced a failure. Fortunately, there were no resulting injuries to our team. The cable failure damaged 250 panels of the primary dish, as well as 6-8 panels on the Gregorian Dome.