Watch: Arecibo Observatory, second-largest in the world before and after its violent collapse

Puerto Rico’s celebrated Arecibo Observatory telescope which had even featured in a James Bond Film recently collapsed when its 900-ton receiver platform fell 450 feet below and onto the dish. The telescope had suffered two cable breaks in August and November and the National Science Foundation, which owns the structure had subsequently determined that it was structurally too unsound for any repair works. It was decommissioned in late November and engineers were already trying figure out how to deconstruct it when the structure fell.

Prior to the crash, the telescope’s platform hung 450 feet in the air above its giant bowl-shaped disk which reflected radio waves from space to instruments on the suspended platform. However, the recent crash was caused when the cables that connected the platform to one of the towers simply snapped.

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The Arecibo Observatory telescope was one of the largest in the world. It was one of the major scientific resource for radio astronomers for more than five decades. It was made even more famous as the milieu for a scene in the famed James Bond GoldenEye film.

The telescope was built in the early 1960s with an intention of studying the ionised upper atmosphere of the Earth. However, it was soon used as an all-purpose radio observatory. The observatory provided the first solid evidence for a neutron star and was also used to identify the first example of a binary pulsar which earned its discoverers the Nobel Prize in Physics. The telescope also helped make the first definitive detection of exoplanets and was used to listen for signals from intelligent life elsewhere in the world.