The National Science Foundation says it might cost up to $50 million just to clean up the debris in a renowned radio telescope that dropped This past Year in Puerto Rico
The upgrade is part of a report that the federal agency, that possesses the telescope, needed to submit to Congress since the investigation continues into the Arecibo telescope. It was until recently the world’s largest radio telescope and has been utilized to study pulsars, find gravitational waves, look for neutral hydrogen and discover habitable planets, among other things.
The NSF noted that outcomes from the forensic tests by technology companies, including mapping the distribution of debris, won’t be ready until late this season.
“Ensuring security has continued to function as NSF’s top priority,” the report stated. “This includes not just the safety of employees on the site, but also the protection of the environment in the area and the requirement to tackle concerns about cultural and historic preservation.”
Estimated cleanup costs range from $30 million to $50 million, with crews so far sampling dirt and excavating areas contaminated by hydraulic oil. The telescope can be found in Puerto Rico’s karst area, which functions as a significant water supply and comprises the island’s richest biodiversity.
The NSF said officials plan to analyze water and soil and protect against pollutants and sediment from migrating.
The University of Central Florida, which manages the telescope, is charged with screening the debris to identify any equipment that may be reused or maybe exhibited at the site or in another museum.
“All scientific infrastructure that can be utilized has been saved,” that the NSF said.
The federal agency said it’s still assessing whether to fix any damaged technology which could be stored. Some technology are still being used, such as two LIDAR facilities utilized for upper atmospheric and ionospheric research for example analyzing cloud cover and precipitation data.
The dish has been damaged in August when an auxiliary cable snapped and caused a 100-foot gash on the dish, breaking about 250 of this dish’s 40,000 aluminum reflector panels and damaging the recipient platform that hung above it.
Then in early November, a principal cable broke, with engineers warning that additional cable collapse would likely be devastating.
A month afterwards, the telescope 900-ton receiver platform and also the Gregorian dome — a structure as tall as a four-story building that houses secondary reflectors — dropped over 400 feet onto the dish.
This was a crushing occasion for scientists across the world who’d been using the telescope for nearly six decades.