Photos show the Arecibo telescope before and after collapse

  • The Arecibo Observatory’s radio telescope collapsed Tuesday morning, when its 900-ton suspended platform crashed into the enormous dish below.
  • Arecibo was one of Earth’s best radio astronomy tools for 57 years. Its death is a blow to asteroid-tracking efforts and the hunt for alien life.
  • Photos of the iconic telescope show what it looked like before and after the crash.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Arecibo Observatory’s enormous radio telescope collapsed on Tuesday morning. Its 900-ton platform crashed into the 1,000-foot-side disk below, yanking down the tops of three support towers as it fell. 

The demise was not entirely a surprise. After the telescope suffered two cable breaks in August and November, the National Science Foundation, which owns the telescope, determined it was too structurally unsound for workers to repair safely. The Foundation decommissioned the Puerto Rico telescope in late November, and engineers were working to figure out how to deconstruct it. But the platform crashed before that work could progress.

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Juxtaposed screen grabs from a video taken by the Arecibo Observatory show the telescope’s platform as it fell.

Courtesy of the Arecibo Observatory, a US National Science Foundation facility

“Friends, it is with deep regret to inform you that the Arecibo Observatory platform has just collapsed,” Deborah Martorell, a meteorologist in Puerto Rico, tweeted in Spanish on Tuesday morning.

Before the crash, the telescope’s massive platform hung 450 feet in the air above its giant bowl-shaped disk. The disk reflected radio waves from space to instruments on the suspended platform.

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The Arecibo Observatory in 2012. The Gregorian Dome hangs over the 1,000-foot reflector dish.

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

But on Tuesday morning, cables that connected the platform to one of the towers snapped, sending it plummeting down.

Jonathan Friedman, who has worked on the Arecibo Observatory’s scientific staff since 1993, told local news outlet NotiCentro the collapse sounded like the rumble of an earthquake, a train, or an avalanche.

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The 900-ton platform crashed into the Arecibo telescope’s main dish on December 1, 2020.

Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images

A life spent hunting asteroids and starring in movies

Since it was completed in 1963, the Arecibo telescope has played a role in some of humanity’s most exciting findings about space.

It discovered the first known planet beyond our solar system, sent out powerful broadcasts for potential aliens to intercept, and tracked potentially hazardous asteroids to see whether they could hit Earth. 

It even helped scientists confirm Einstein’s theory of general relativity by detecting the first binary pulsar: a highly magnetized, compact star orbiting another star.

Arecibo also enabled researchers to hunt for radio waves from potential alien technology. The only other radio telescope that equals Arecibo’s former power is China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST).  

The telescope’s scale and setting also led it to a life onscreen: It starred in the 1995 James Bond film “GoldenEye” and the 1997 movie “Contact,” starring Jodie Foster.

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Jodi Foster in the film “Contact,” which is based on a

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15 Dazzling Photos Of November’s Last Full Moon And Eclipse Around The World

The final full moon of November has been a spectacle to marvel with the added bonus of a crepuscular lunar eclipse, less easy to see but equally dazzling.

This full moon is called Cold Moon, Frost Moon, Winter Moon, Beaver Moon, Oak Moon, Moon Before Yule, Child Moon, Kartik Purnima, Karthika Deepam and Tazaungdaing Festival Moon, and Ill Poya, according to various world customs, calendars and legends.

Among those many names some are better known such as the ‘beaver moon,’ which comes from a Native American tradition associated with the time when beavers finish building their lodges made of branches and mud to prepare for winter.

It’s also well known as the full ‘cold moon’, ‘winter moon’ and ‘frost moon’ due to the long, cold nights of November.

MORE FROM FORBES18 Spectacular Photos Of July’s Buck Moon And Lunar Eclipse

“As the full moon before the winter solstice, an old European name for this moon is the Oak Moon,” Nasa explains, “a name that some believe ties back to ancient druid traditions of harvesting mistletoe from oak trees first recorded by the Roman historian Pliny the Elder in the 1st century CE.” 

Penumbral lunar eclipse

As explained by Nasa, the lunar eclipse accompanying the cold moon was at its fullest early on Monday morning, November 30, when it was “close enough to opposite the Sun that it passed through the partial shadow of the

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Beautiful Yet Unnerving Photos of the Arctic Getting Greener

Normally, the shrubs and grasses of the tundra trap snow in the winter, and keep it from blowing around the landscape. But as temperatures rise, taller shrub species are becoming more abundant, trapping thicker layers of snow. That might seem great—all that snow keeps the permafrost from warming up—but in fact it prevents the chill of winter from penetrating the soil enough to keep it frozen. And that’s a problem, because if the permafrost doesn’t get cold enough to stay frozen—well, permanently—it will start to release that trapped carbon dioxide and methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas.

Researchers Isla Myers-Smith and Gergana Daskalova do good-old boots-on-the-ground science, surveying a plot of plants.

Photograph: Jeff Kerby/National Geographic Society

“In other instances, shrubs are darker than grasses, so that changes the albedo,” says Kerby, referring to the way that the landscape reflects light back into space. The white snow reflects light, while darker bare earth and green plants absorb it. “It’s kind of like wearing a black T-shirt on a summer day versus a white T-shirt: You’re just going to feel hotter, because black is absorbing more heat,” Kerby continues. “And so that will melt the snow faster, or it can thaw permafrost faster.”

To make the Arctic carbon cycle even more complicated, all that vegetation of course sequesters carbon: Plants suck in CO2 and spit out oxygen. “So one of the big questions is, will this greening signal, these increases in plants, offset the losses of carbon from the systems as permafrost thaws?” says Isla Myers-Smith, an ecologist at the University of Edinburgh, who supervises the research and coauthored the paper.

Researcher Jeff Kerby calibrates a drone for flight

Photograph: Andrew C. Cunliffe

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The best science photos of the week

Each week at Live Science we find the most interesting and informative articles we can. Along the way, we uncover some amazing and cool images. Here you’ll discover the most incredible photos we found this week, and the remarkable stories behind them.


© Provided by Live Science

Cretaceous toucans?

In what may be one of the weirdest animal mash-ups, scientists have found the 68 million-year-old fossilized skull of an early bird with a Velociraptor-like face and a toucan-like beak, a new study finds. This crow-size bird lived in northwestern Madagascar during the late Cretaceous, when dinosaurs walked the Earth. And its bizarre beaky face made it one of a kind.


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“Birds from the Mesozoic [the dinosaur era], or any time for that matter, do not have faces built like this,” study co-researcher Patrick O’Connor, professor of anatomy at Ohio University, told Live Science.

Researchers found the bird’s partial but “exquisitely preserved” skull in 2010 in a block of muddy sandstone. They didn’t CT scan it until 2017, O’Connor said. In that moment, they realized this 3-inch-long (8.5 centimeters) skull — so small it could fit in the palm of your hand — had “a beak never before seen in the Mesozoic,” study co-researcher Alan Turner, associate professor of anatomy at Stony Brook University in New York, told Live Science.

[Read more: Dino-era bird had the head of a Velociraptor and beak of a toucan]

A crack in the dish

Satellites spotted gashes in the damaged Arecibo Observatory, which is set to be decommissioned by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF).

The 57-year-old radio telescope has sustained two cable failures which has made its massive dish too unstable to safely repair, according to the NSF. The cable failures have also damaged the massive dish, which spans a whopping 1,000 feet (305 meters) across, gouging holes in its delicate metal panels.

Those holes in the telescope’s large dish and vegetation growing below the historic piece of technology can be seen from space in a new, high-resolution satellite image taken by the Dove satellite constellation operated by Planet, a company based in California. The image was produced on request from Nature, according to a statement. 

[Read more: Arecibo radio telescope, damaged beyond repair, seen from space]

The mummy’s secret

An Egyptian mummy that was decorated with a woman’s portrait contained a surprise — the body of a child who was only 5 years old when she died. Now, scientists have learned more about the mysterious girl and her burial, thanks to high-resolution scans and X-ray “microbeams” that targeted very small regions in the intact artifact.

Computed X-ray tomography (CT) scans of the mummy’s teeth and femur confirmed the girl’s age, though they showed no signs of trauma in her bones that could suggest the cause of her death. 

The mummy, known as “Hawara Portrait Mummy No. 4,” was excavated between 1910 and 1911 from the ancient Egyptian site of Hawara, and it dates to around the

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Scientists capture world’s first 3,200-megapixel photos

Scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have taken the world’s first 3,200-megapixel digital photos, using an advanced imaging device that’s built to explore the universe.

“We will measure and catalog something like 20 billion galaxies.” said Steven Kahn, director of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile. That’s where the world’s largest digital camera will serve as the centerpiece of a monumental effort to map the night sky. The camera will spend 10 years capturing the most detailed images of the universe ever taken.  


A head of romanesco broccoli captured at 3,200 megapixels.


“Most parts of the night sky have actually never been imaged at all by telescopes.” Kahn said. “No part of the sky has really been imaged with this kind of time, sequencing and time cadence, where you can watch how things change.”

The team working on the camera just completed the focal plane, which is an array of imaging sensors more than two feet wide. (The equivalent focal length on an iPhone 11 camera is 26 millimeters.) It took the team about six months to assemble the sensors, largely because the sensors can easily crack if they touch each other during the installation process.  


The focal plane is made up of 189 individual sensors, divided into groups of nine called rafts.

National Accelerator Laboratory

Since the camera isn’t complete, scientists used a pinhole projector to test the focal plane. They snapped photos of an image of Vera C. Rubin (the late scientist the observatory is named for), the camera team, and a head of romanesco broccoli.

Watch the video above to see how scientists designed and built the focal plane, and to learn more about the mysteries of the universe they hope it can help unlock.  


The Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile under construction in April.

Rubin Obs/NSF/AURA

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How Old Family Fishing Photos Unlock the History of Atlantic Fisheries

Citizen Science Salon is a partnership between Discover and

Rusty Hudson grew up on the salt-laden docks of Daytona Beach, Florida. As a third-generation fisherman, he naturally took to the industry. When he was just 9 years old, Hudson started his first job as a bait boy aboard the Mako, a charter boat owned by his grandfather, Captain Jake Stone. 

By the late 1960s, he was working regularly on his family’s fishing boats. While guests prepared to shuffle aboard the boat to pursue a myriad of fish species, including snappers, groupers, jacks, mackerels, and dolphinfish (mahi-mahi), Hudson busied himself with bait prep. On days that the Mako hosted a small party of fishermen, the boy would get to pick up a rod and join them. And after customers returned to the dock from a day of fishing with Hudson, his grandfather and the crew, they would pose with the captain and their catch to commemorate the day. Each photo created a record of the catch, the people, and the experience, a memento for the family photo album. 

Years later, these historic photos are providing more than just memories of a fun day fishing on the water. Hudson realized how valuable his family’s photos could be in re-creating the catch from the 1940s to 1970s — a time before scientific monitoring programs collected data on recreational and for-hire fisheries. “I felt the for-hire pictures of the past could illustrate the range of fishing conditions and catches to fishery scientists and managers,” Hudson says. Knowing more about the fisheries of the past could help all of us better understand the health of fish populations today.

Take Part: Join FISHstory and Help Scientists Sleuth Old Fishing Photos

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Thanks to citizen scientists, researchers are learning about how fisheries have changed in the past half century by studying an archive of family photos taken after sport fishing trips. (Credit: Rusty Hudson/Hudson, Stone, and Timmons Families)

FISHstory’s Beginnings 

The idea for the FISHstory project was hatched over a decade ago when Hudson participated in a stock assessment for red snapper in the South Atlantic. As his family’s informal historian, he had amassed an archive of hundreds of historic photos from his family’s fishing fleet. When he showed the photos to scientists, it kickstarted discussions about the insights these photos might unlock. The value of these photos was evident to all, as they represented one of the only data sources available to document recreational and for-hire catches from this historic time period. However, analyzing hundreds of photos can be labor intensive — so there were challenges in getting a project off the ground. 

Enter the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s (SAFMC) Citizen Science Program. Headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, the SAFMC is responsible for the conservation and management of fisheries in federal waters from North Carolina through the Florida Keys. The SAFMC’s Citizen Science Program was developed over the course of three years with guidance from a wide array of stakeholders and partners. The

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Rare Two-Headed Shark Found By Fisherman, Photos Go Viral

A rare baby shark with two heads was discovered by a fisherman off Palghar coast in the Indian state of Maharashtra last week.

The fisherman, identified as Nitin Patil, threw the six-inch shark back into the sea after taking a few photos of it.

“We do not eat such small fish, especially sharks, so I thought it was strange but decided to throw it anyway,” Patil told local daily the Hindustan Times.

He then showed the photos to other fishermen who told him that it was a rare anomaly. The fishermen in turn shared the photos with researchers from the Indian Council for Agricultural Research – Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (ICAR-CMFRI).

The researchers confirmed that the discovery was a very rare documentation.

“Our records show that double-headed sharks are very rarely reported along the Indian coast. This species appears to be the embryo of the spadenose shark (Scoliodon laticaudus) from the Carcharhinidae family or a sharpnose shark (Rhizoprionodon species). Both are viviparous and are common in Maharashtra waters,” said Dr. Akhilesh KV, scientist at ICAR-CMFRI, told the newspaper.

He went on to say that the heads of the shark were joined behind the gills.

“These are also called dicephaly. This phenomenon is reported in several animal species including sharks, possibly due to mutation or any other embryonic malformation, disorders, and these are very rare reports. Similar cases are reported elsewhere outside the northern Indian Ocean. These materials should be preserved out of scientific interest,” he added.

However, another researcher told the newspaper that the species have a very low survival rate.

“There are hardly any documentations of this species as adults. This finding is purely an aberration. We cannot attribute it to any exact reason. It is regularly seen for snake species or conjoined or Siamese twins in humans. In maximum cases, they do not survive beyond the juvenile stage, but it definitely opens up an avenue for much needed research,” E Vivekanandan, emeritus scientist, ICAR-CMFRI told the newspaper.

whitetip-reef-shark-586362_640 shark Photo: Pixabay

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Former University of Utah officer who showed off explicit photos of Lauren McCluskey won’t face charges

A former University of Utah police officer will not face criminal charges for showing off explicit photos of student-athlete Lauren McCluskey to his co-workers.

a car parked in a parking lot: (Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Police cars sit in the parking lot of the University of Utah police department.

© Francisco Kjolseth
(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) Police cars sit in the parking lot of the University of Utah police department.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said Thursday that his office has declined to prosecute Miguel Deras. While he believes the officer’s actions were “definitely reckless,” Gill said there is no Utah law for addressing this type of police misconduct.

“We realized there was no real statute we could use for this case,” Gill said. “We’re incensed like everyone else by the behavior. It was inappropriate. But if there’s not a statute, there’s nothing we can do.”

The decision was announced after the last day Gill could have filed misdemeanor charges for abusing evidence. The statute of limitations has now expired.

Though the Utah Department of Public Safety found in August that Deras had inappropriately shown off the pictures of McCluskey to at least three of his male colleagues without a work-related reason, the actual display occurred two years ago in the days before McCluskey was killed on campus in October 2018.

“We just got it so late and were limited in what options we had,” Gill said.

Without many avenues for charges of officer misconduct, Gill’s office examined whether they could charge Deras under what’s called the “revenge porn law” in Utah. With that, sharing or displaying a compromising photo of someone without the person’s consent can be prosecuted. The statute, though, requires proof that the person in the images was harmed. McCluskey’s death, Gill said, made that impossible.

Members of the person’s family being hurt, such as McCluskey’s parents, doesn’t count.

Jill and Matt McCluskey said Thursday that they were disappointed in Gill for “not pursuing justice” in their daughter’s case.

“Instead of helping her, Deras showed her images to other male officers and bragged about it,” they said in an email. “A consequence of Gill’s decision is that women will hesitate to report extortion and harassment for fear that the private information they provide will be compromised, or even leered at, by officers for reasons unrelated to her case.”

Their attorney, Jim McConkie, doesn’t agree with Gill’s reading of the law.

For one thing, he said, Lauren McCluskey was harmed while she was alive by the officer choosing to show off her photos and not spending the time investigating her concerns. And he believes her reputation should be considered a part of her that lives on now.

“What Gill is saying to women with this decision is ‘We can’t help you. Don’t come to us,’” McConkie added.

Gill said he intends to lobby the Utah Legislature to update state law on officer misconduct, particularly as it applies to viewing or showing off sensitive victim photos. But that won’t change anything in Deras’ case.

“There’s genuine concern over what the officer was engaging in,” the district attorney said. “We

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