Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, cutting electricity and basic infrastructure such as phone and Internet communications. Throughout the emergency, social media, television, and online communications were cut off across the island. Audiences were able to follow the events related to Hurricane Maria thanks to battery operated radio receivers. Media organizations in Puerto Rico faced unprecedented challenges.
That failure further mangled the reflector dish after an auxiliary cable broke in August, tearing a foot hole and damaging the dome above it. Officials said they were surprised because they had evaluated the structure in August and believed it could handle the shift in weight based on inspections.
Research has been suspended since August, including a project aiding scientists in their search for nearby galaxies.
The telescope was built in the s and financed by the Defense Department amid a push to develop anti-ballistic missile defenses. Repairs from Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico inwere still underway when the first cable snapped.
Some new cables are scheduled to arrive next month, but officials said funding for repairs has not been worked out with federal agencies. Scientists warn that time is running out.
Only a handful of cables now support the ton platform. University officials say crews have already noticed wire breaks on two of the remaining main cables. They warn that employees and contractors are at risk despite relying heavily on drones and remote cameras to assess the damage.
Foundation spokesman Rob Margetta said engineering and cost estimates have not been completed and that funding the repairs would likely involve Congress and discussions with stakeholders. In a Facebook post, the observatory said maintenance was up to date and the most recent external structural evaluation occurred after Hurricane Maria.
The most recent damage was likely the result of the cable degrading over time and carrying extra weight after the auxiliary cable snapped, the university said. In August, the socket holding that cable failed, possibly the result of manufacturing error, the observatory said. He had planned to study Mars in September during its close approach to Earth.
The observatory in Puerto Rico is considered crucial for the study of pulsars, which are the remains of stars that can be used to detect gravitational waves, a phenomenon Albert Einstein predicted in his theory of general relativity. The telescope also is used to search for neutral hydrogen, which can reveal how certain cosmic structures are formed.
He helped discover the first extrasolar and pulsar planets and credited the observatory for having a culture that allowed him to test what he described as wild ideas that sometimes worked. Among them: observing molecules of life, detecting radio emission of stars and conducting pulsar work.
She relied on it for her doctoral thesis and recalled staring at it in wonder when she was a young girl. Cable failures endanger renowned Puerto Rico radio telescope.
Giant, aging cables that support the radio telescopes are slowly unraveling in this U. Connect with the definitive source for global and local news. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.