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Arecibo Observatory to be Demolished

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KA0HCP, Nov 19, 2020.

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  1. N2IPH

    N2IPH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    "certainly seems like the NSF hasnt been doing periodic maintenance."

    No doubt that is the case, and from the quotes of various people that were interviewed for the recent articles by a number of reporting agencies they have no clue. Cables are machines that require periodic inspection and maintenance, and they do not last forever, even stagnant ones like the cables used here, the individual strands within the cable are always moving in relation to each other. If you see one strand has broken; as was reported in one recent article; it's time to get it replaced ASAP, not wait for the second or third wire to break. Given the age of Arrecibo they should have had a emergency repair plan in place long ago and been able to implement it right away, not months later after some engineers have studied the problem and then published a report that says in essence "yup, it's broke, you need to fix it" and then entered into another few months of coffer draining engineering studies at expedited rates because time is critical now.

    If it does have to be demolished then why not build a new one in the same location? That spot was perceivably chosen because it was better than any other available at the time. if that holds true today build a new one. FAST is only 50% of what is needed to be able to monitor the skies. Without a second facility on the other side of the globe you can only 'listen' for about half the time to any specific point in the heavens. Imagine how much would slip by if you're only monitoring for 12 hours a day not 24.

    Hey we missed seeing a NEO that slipped by at less than 300 miles just a few days ago [ ] . Luckily it was not a biggie and would have most likely burnt up if it entered our atmosphere but we need to be tracking the thousands of known NEOs and looking for new ones 24/7 not part time. So a replacement for Arrecibo is needed now. And that will still leave a gap of years since it will take times to design and build a new Arrecibo.

    So to everyone who is always pushing for lower taxes, this is where some of your tax money goes (or was going before it was cut). When Congress gets pressured into trimming taxes to the bare minimum, programs like this lose funding, and we all suffer in the long run. Probably took a few years for the budget cuts to do their dirty work in this case but when your budget is shrinking where is the first place you look to cut expenses...maintenance is first on the chopping block because it does not affect people (aka employees) or projects, at least not directly or as many.

    The older your equipment is the more maintenance will be required, not less, it's a simple fact.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020
    KF4ZKU likes this.
  2. KW0U

    KW0U Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not quite, and it turns out that contrary to rumor the plans do exist. It is just nobody has the period hardware to build it again. Anyway, I see this as another example of the national turn from science to fantasy, or at least away from hard learning. I've been substitute teaching in what is said to be an excellent school district and found that maybe 1 student in 20 was serious about learning (thanks to their parents). Everybody knew how to use their iPads though, for fun and games when the teachers weren't looking, for finding (but not thinking about) facts when they were. The low numbers of young people entering our hobby or general aviation may in part be fallout from living in such an instantaneous and very distractable world. The lack of historical knowledge, of much science or geography that seems prevalent today could be others. Arthur C. Clarke was right when he said any modern country that did not educated its citizens to their fullest potential was committing suicide. I doubt if we're even remotely doing that.
    N1OOQ, KF4ZKU, KR3DX and 2 others like this.
  3. N2IPH

    N2IPH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    " I doubt if we're even remotely doing that."

    Oh no, we're doing that alright, we (the USA) are committing suicide for sure.

    Between that and the political infighting, we are doomed.
    N1OOQ, KF4ZKU and KR3DX like this.
  4. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I see I stirred up some chatter off-line. Well, about time!

    I am not dependent on NSF funding so I can express my educated opinion:)

    BTW, don't blame the tech staff at AO for any of this--they did what they could with the cards they were dealt.

    OK, here's how you re-build AO....these ideas have origins with many (BTW).

    Get rid of the 'consensus funding' requirement and build a dedicated dish , as has happened at least three times at AO..

    Instead of a superstructure platform at the focal line, use a tethered drone-- with a line feed or a less ambitious Gregorian reflector. Accept the fact that there are aperture efficiency losses, real-time beam corrections, and so on. Planetary radar goes to other facilities. Ionospheric heating, such as the dish-based design by WA3FET fit well with this re-build.

    No towers. No support cables. No platform.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020
    W0PV likes this.
  5. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    'ARECIBO' please...c'mon guys, spell it correctly:)

    Your point on small asteroid detection is well taken, The problem is that AO had only a limited ability to 'see' NEO's, selecting for NEO's that had orbits with declinations that fit within its sky coverage. IOW AO missed quite a bit as a 'planetary protection' platform.

    AO was never able to 'see' the whole sky, nor was it designed for that.
    N2EY likes this.
  6. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    There are a number of reasons for this; basically the NSF claimed it wanted private donors, but in fact they chased them away. Too many restrictions.

    UCF tried but did a poor job, IMO. It's not just a question of hiring fund raising staff and working email lists.

    The astronomical community, most of the time, has forgotten its 'private donor' roots and fallen into the 'consensus funding' paradigm.
  7. WB9YTG

    WB9YTG Ham Member QRZ Page

    1990-1993. Worked my share of DX with a vertical and a TS-520S. Several QSO’s QRP! (Heathkit HW-8)

    my home was almost at the eastern-most edge of PR (near Ceiba, PR)
  8. GM4BRB

    GM4BRB Ham Member QRZ Page

    WEBAreciboDishDamage.jpg This photo provided by the Arecibo Observatory, shows the damage done by a broken cable.
    It sort of ruins the outdoor play-area, doesn't it.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2020
  9. WB9YTG

    WB9YTG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Perhaps a privately funded repair?
    KF4ZKU likes this.
  10. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    That photo was from August. The latest damage to the dish itself is far more extensive. The dish isn't the issue anymore, its whether the 800 ton platform (above it) is going to fall.

    Chip W1YW
    GM4BRB and N2IPH like this.

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