Rest in Peace, Arecibo

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The Arecibo Radio Observatory in ruins. (Credit: Juan R. Costa)

The astronomy world is mourning today with the complete loss of the radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Following years of neglect by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and reeling from damage caused by an onslaught of hurricanes over the past few years, the iconic facility finally succumbed to gravity earlier this morning. The massive antenna array that was suspended above the central dish came crashing down and is no more.

Aerial photos show segments of the support towers missing their top sections, which suggests that the cable assemblies collapsed when the support structures themselves gave way.

For me, this is deeply heartbreaking. Arecibo has long held a special place in my heart and it will be missed as an iconic facility and engineering marvel that has opened many new windows into the mysteries of the universe.

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