Scientists: hurricane «Maria» has damaged the largest radio telescope in the world

© AP Photo / Tomas van HoutryveКрупнейший the world, the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto RicoScientists: hurricane «Maria» has damaged the largest radio telescope in the world© AP Photo / Tomas van Houtryve

The passage of hurricane «Maria» on the island of Puerto Rico was not knocked out, but hurt the 305-meter radiotrance telescope, «Arecibo», which put its existence and further work is under threat, reports the news service of the journal Science.

«The telescope survived the catastrophe, but those little injuries that left Maria, can incapacitate him for a few months. If these problems are serious, then the national science Foundation of the United States will receive another argument in favor of closing the Observatory,» said astronomer John Matthews (John Mathews) at the University of Pennsylvania in state College (USA), quoted in the journal.

Hurricane «Maria» appeared on September 16 this year, when over the Atlantic there was another tropical cyclone began to absorb thermal energy from the sea. The next day there was a powerful storm, which quickly grew to a hurricane of the fifth category of danger, and it was extremely powerful for its strength, surpassing «Irma».

Three days later, 20 September, he landed on the shores of the island of Puerto Rico, causing massive floods and created a serious threat to radio astronomy Observatory «Arecibo», and the second largest in the world after radiomarelli of the FAST telescope in China. Current estimates of the authorities of the island, the hurricane has already managed to damage more than 80% of buildings, killing at least 15 people and completely destroy the power grid of the island.

Despite the life-threatening part of the scientific team «Arecibo» has not left the Observatory and continued to fight for her life for two days when the hurricane raged over the island. Before the arrival of the storm, the scientists disconnected from the telescope and all its fragile moving parts and has strengthened the rest of the Observatory storm screens and other protection from hurricanes, and also checked and included all the spare diesel generators.

These efforts, as noted by Joan Smeltz (Joan Schmelz), Deputy Director of the «Arecibo» was justified – after Maria left the island, the scientists left the «bunker» and found no signs of significant damage on the plate of the telescope, is not compatible with his future work. Similarly, a set of tools suspended above the dish of the telescope on three 80-metre towers, survived the hurricane and kept working.

On the other hand, the hurricane tore the roofs off some buildings and flooded the funnel, which includes a main antenna Arecibo, and damaged many secondary systems and antennas. Hardest hit 29 metre auxiliary antenna, designed to study the atmosphere, and specialized lines. Their repair is estimated to Matthews, the Observatory will cost several million dollars, which is comparable to the annual budget «Arecibo», amounting to approximately 8 million USD.

As noted by the scientist, these are relatively small problems that are experienced «Arecibo» can put an end to his long academic career. The fact that the leadership of the National science Foundation last summer have already talked about the possible closure and demolition of telescope in Puerto Rico, and his prolonged failure and additional costs to repair may force officials to ignore the dissatisfaction of scientists to take such a decision.