The National Science Foundation released stunning video footage on Thursday, capturing the exact dramatic moment of theon the plate 300 meters below. A drone was conducting a close investigation of the cables that still held the platform above the antenna as the cables broke on Tuesday.
The video from the huge radio telescope shows the images of the drone and the view of a camera in the visitor center showing the platform falling on the antenna just above the jungle floor in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Two massive pieces of cement towers to which the cables were attached can also be seen falling.
Two of the cables had already broken, one in August anddestabilizing the telescope.
A drone was inspecting the spot at the top of one of the towers, where one of the previous cable breaks had occurred, when the rest suddenly broke.
NSF recently decided to disable the telescope after a second cable was broken in November.
“It was a dangerous situation,” John Abruzzo, who works for an engineering consulting firm called Thornton Tomasetti, hired by NSF, told reporters on Thursday. “These cables may have failed at any time.”
On Tuesday, they did.
NSF reports that no one was injured in the collapse and that the visitor center suffered only minor damage.
The telescope, which has operated for almost 60 years, was the backdrop for a dramatic fighting scene in the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye with Pierce Brosnan. Also appeared in the 1997 film by Jodie Foster Contact. But Arecibo’s true legacy lies in many scientific discoveries made it possible. He explored pulsars, expanded our knowledge of Mercury, located exoplanets and found fast radio bursts.