Fallen Arecibo Observatory to be transformed into STEM education centre

The popular observatory, as soon as the largest radio telescope on Earth, collapsed in 2020 after a quantity of its cables started to fail.

The US Nationwide Science Foundation (NSF) has decided to transform the iconic Arecibo Observatory into a STEM-targeted education centre.

The 305-metre radio telescope, designed internationally famed by films these kinds of as GoldenEye and Speak to, was regarded as a beacon for breakthrough science.

The observatory operated for 57 many years but was established to be decommissioned in 2020 immediately after a collection of incidents still left it weakened further than repair. The system collapsed at the conclusion of 2020 soon after a third cable snapped off.

A site of debris with trees and a cloudy sky in the background. It is the Arecibo Observatory after it collapsed in 2020.

Injury to the Arecibo Observatory following its collapse on 1 December 2020. Image: Michelle Negron/Nationwide Science Basis

Ahead of the observatory collapsed, the NSF said that even if repairs have been designed to Arecibo, the structure would even now existing very long-term balance challenges.

Rather than rebuild, the NSF has made the decision to flip the site into a multidisciplinary centre to provide as a hub for STEM training and outreach.

The new education and learning centre will operate to endorse studying and training in just STEM and broaden participation. The centre will also find to create and leverage existing and new collaborations and guidance fundamental STEM education and learning investigation.

The NSF stated the scientific community has shown assistance for an expanded educational facility, these as the 2020 Decadal Survey for Astronomy and Astrophysics (Astro2020).

“Astro2020 recognised that the observatory has, more than the class of its just about 60-year background, turn into a very regarded element of the group for a lot of of Puerto Rico’s citizens, serving as a resource of satisfaction and local financial advantage even though also offering obtain to coaching and work for numerous in the group,” the NSF explained in a assertion.

The new centre is predicted to open sometime in 2023 and will grow on the existing training and outreach options presently in place at the web-site.

The NSF is soliciting proposals to “manage the schooling, STEM study and outreach elements of the centre”.

The Arecibo Observatory was the major radio telescope on Earth till China done the 5-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (Quickly) in 2016.

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