FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — One of the most powerful telescopes on Earth will be retired.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) released a statement saying that the 305-meter telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will be decommissioned.
The telescope consists of a 305-meter radio dish and 900-ton instrument platform suspended 450 feet above the dish.
Cables connected to three towers hold the telescope in place.
The telescope began receiving signals from space in November 1963.
It is most notably known for the Arecibo Message in 1974.
That's when an interstellar message was broadcasted to the global star cluster Messier 13 in an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial life.
The star cluster is located 25,000 light years away.
The message contained basic information about humanity and Earth.
The telescope was upgraded several times and it was even heavily damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
In August 2020, one of the cables came loose which created a 100-foot gash in the dish.
Before the NSF could fix the first cable, a second main cable broke and crashed into the reflector dish which caused more damage to the telescope.
After the second cable broke, engineers discovered that the second cable broke at 60% of its minimum breaking strength in calm weather.
Engineers believe the other cables could be weaker than expected.
The main cables are original to telescope's structure.
Even if they could safely fix the telescope, it would likely have stability issues in the future.
The NSF accepted the recommendation from the engineers that the telescope should be decommissioned.