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Puerto Rico’s Space Telescope – Arecibo Observatory

The Arecibo Observatory was a radio telescope located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. It was one of the largest and most powerful radio telescopes in the world and was operated by the National Science Foundation (NSF) until its decommissioning in late 2020.

The observatory consisted of a large dish-shaped reflector, measuring 305 meters in diameter, which was suspended over a natural sinkhole. The dish was used to collect radio waves from space, which were then focused onto a receiver located at the focal point of the dish. The observatory was used for a wide range of astronomical research, including studying planets, asteroids, pulsars, and galaxies.

Impression of a binary pulsar

One of the most famous discoveries made using the Arecibo Observatory was the first detection of a binary pulsar, which earned its discoverers the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1993. The observatory was also used to send messages to extraterrestrial civilizations as part of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program.

Unfortunately, in August 2020, the observatory suffered significant damage when one of its cables broke and caused a 100-foot gash in the dish. In November of that year, the NSF announced that the observatory would be decommissioned due to safety concerns, and its iconic dish was dismantled in late 2020. However, the Arecibo Observatory remains an important part of Puerto Rico’s scientific and cultural heritage. Tours are still offered as well as educational classes and workshops at the visitor center.

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