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Arecibo Observatory’s main collecting dish, which is among the world’s largest single-dish radio telescopes, was badly damaged when a cable snapped on Monday, Aug. 10.  (Image credit: University of Central Florida)

On Aug. 10, 2020, the Arecibo Observatory — a massive telescope in Puerto Rico famous for tracking asteroids and advancing the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) — was slashed to pieces after a metal cable above the telescope came loose in the dead of night and crashed through the radar dish below.

One month later, facility officials still don’t know what caused the mysterious midnight malfunction. But the recovery effort is underway, and officials plan to launch a full “forensic investigation” into the disaster as soon as the facility’s safety can be guaranteed, according to a statement from the University of Central Florida (UCF), which helps manage the telescope.



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