The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico was still undergoing repairs from damage by Hurricane Maria three years ago when an auxiliary cable broke and took the telescope offline this week.
The observatory is managed by the University of Central Florida in partnership with Universidad Ana G. Méndez and Yang Enterprises Inc. NASA also relies on the telescope to support the Planetary Radar Project.
The broken cable slashed through the 1,000-foot-wide reflector dish this week, creating 100 feet of damage throughout the telescope.
UCF describes the incident in a blog post this week:
The break occurred about 2:45 a.m. When the three-inch cable fell it also damaged about 6-8 panels in the Gregorian Dome and twisted the platform used to access the dome. It is not yet clear what caused the cable to break.
“We have a team of experts assessing the situation,” says Francisco Cordova, the director of the observatory. “Our focus is assuring the safety of our staff, protecting the facilities and equipment, and restoring the facility to full operations as soon as possible, so it can continue to assist scientists around the world.”
Here’s how the observatory appeared prior to the accident: