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Hurricane Maria damages parts of Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory

By Hanneke Weitering
September 22, 2017, 4:27:48 PM EDT

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The Arecibo Observatory sustained serious damage during Hurricane Maria. The pointy object protruding downward from the suspended platform is a 96-foot (29-meter) antenna that broke off during the hurricane, puncturing the telescope dish below. Credit: Pedrik/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0


Puerto Rico's iconic Arecibo Observatory has sustained some significant damage from Hurricane Maria, officials reported today (Sept. 22).

The storm hit the island as a Category 4 hurricane Wednesday (Sept. 20) and left widespread destruction in its wake. Without power, phones or internet service, the Arecibo Observatory has been offline since the storm hit.

The Arecibo Observatory houses the world's second-largest radio telescope. While the overall structure of the telescope is still standing, it sustained some pretty serious damage from Hurricane Maria, according to an update from the Universities Space Research Organization (USRA), which helps to operate the Arecibo Observatory.

One telescope operator at Arecibo managed to contact USRA officials Thursday (Sept. 21) via a short-wave radio transmission. National Geographic's Nadia Drake reports that Pennsylvania State University professor Jim Breakall spoke with the telescope operator, who was identified as Ángel Vazquez, and said staff members and their families were safe after sheltering at the facility. Vazquez also detailed some of the damage done to the iconic telescope.

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