A mystery accident at the Arecibo Observatory — a gargantuan telescope in Puerto Rico famous for scouring the cosmos for asteroids and alien life — has triggered suspicions as to whether it was sabotaged by extraterrestrials.
The devastating accident midnight on Monday 10 August, left the telescope’s reflector dish in pieces.
At approximately 2:45 a.m. local time, a metal cable at the facility snapped, slashing through the radar dish and tearing open a 100-foot-long (30 meters) hole, according to a statement from the University of Central Florida, which operates the National Science Foundation-owned facility.
The snapped cable also smashed through several other cables and platforms that support the dish, causing debris to rain down on the ground below and making it harder for technicians to access the site.
“We have a team of experts assessing the situation,” Francisco Cordova, the director of the observatory, said in the statement.
“Our focus is assuring the safety of our staff, protecting the facilities and equipment, and restoring the facility to full operations as soon as possible, so it can continue to assist scientists around the world.”
Arecibo began operating in 1963 from the bottom of a natural sinkhole in Puerto Rico.
At the time of its completion, Arecibo was the world’s largest single-dish telescope, stretching 1,000 feet (305 m) in diameter.
Arecibo has played a central role in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) since the 1970s.
In 1974, astronomers used the radio telescope to transmit a binary code toward a dense cluster of stars 25,000 light-years away, hoping the message might get picked up by another technologically-advanced civilization. (It wasn’t).
Reported by Livescience