Earlier this month, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico met its sad demise as the aging facility collapsed overnight. The facility’s destruction was a terrible day for the astronomy community, and rebuilding it felt entirely out of reach. However, Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced just gave those hoping to rebuild Arecibo an unexpected glimmer of hope.
Yesterday, Vázquez Garced signed an executive order approving $8 million in funds to rebuild the Arecibo Observatory. The order specified that the reconstruction of the radio telescope was “a matter of public policy.”
Garced had this to say on rebuilding the Arecibo facility:
The government of Puerto Rico is convinced that the collapse of the radio telescope brings a great opportunity to redesign it taking into consideration the lessons learned and the recommendations from the scientific community to make it relevant for decades.
According to the governor, the $8 million in funding is meant to cover the debris disposal from the collapse as well as a new design for the facility. It’s a solid start, but much more funding will be required to actually rebuild the radio telescope.
Hopefully the newfound interest in rebuilding from the Puerto Rican government will entice the US federal government to allocate funds to help rebuild the facility in the near future.