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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.

  • Management Update (July 21, 2021):
    Current and Future Operations of the Facility

    Management A message from Mr. Ray Lugo, Director of the Florida Space Institute

    It has been nearly one year since telescope observations at the Arecibo Observatory were halted due to the unfortunate loss of the auxiliary cable that supported the telescope’s iconic platform, ultimately resulting in its collapse on December 1, 2020.

  • Management Update (July 19, 2021):
    Facilities and Operations Highlights


    With a new vision on efficient operations, services, processes, and a healthier work environment in diverse aspects, the team has been planning, organizing and directing the maintenance, executing repairs, renovating buildings and grounds. Following efficient operation and managerial project management best practices, the Facilities and Operations Team has been very successful in the last couple of months.

  • Management Update (Apr 7, 2021):
    Statement from the Director


    The Arecibo Observatory has been a beacon of science and ground breaking discoveries for more than 60 years, helping us better understand the universe around us, and serving as an inspiration to new generations of scientists and engineers across the world. It has also become a part of the culture of Puerto Rico, an iconic place serving as a clear favorite for school trips and family days.

  • Management Update:
    Plan Submission (Mar 25, 2021)

    Management Transportation Plan for the Removal of Debris

    Engineering firms operating at the site of the Arecibo Observatory’s collapsed 305-meter telescope have produced a transportation plan for the removal of debris. The plan will be discussed at an April 5 public meeting, accessible in-person or virtually.

  • NSF Media (Dec 3, 2020):
    Footage of the Collapse of Arecibo Observatory 305m Radio Telescope


    This video was taken from the vantage point of the Arecibo operations building (Building 1), where the Arecibo telescope operators conduct telescope operations. At the center of the video is the telescope platform, including the Gregorian dome. The catwalk, used to walk from the ground up to the top of the platform, is seen to extend from the left side of the frame to the top of the platform.

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


    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)


    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.

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


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


    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.

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


    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


    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


    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


    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.