The collapse of the Arecibo Observatory’s plate in Puerto Rico not only left the scientific community inconsolable, but also worried about the planet’s sudden vulnerability to the asteroid shock. That is why there is already a project for version 2.0 of the most iconic and important radio telescope used in the defense of the planet against threats from space.
The wreckage of the William E. Gordon radio telescope dish had not been picked up when not only the observatory’s scientific team but the Arecibo astronomical community around the world began arguing over the future of the one that has no replacement so far. .
“When the radio telescope went down, there were statements in the media like ‘Oh, we have other systems that can replace what Arecibo is doing’, but I don’t think that’s true. are through other existing facilities and instruments. ”Astrophysicist Anne Virkki, who leads the planetary radar team at the Arecibo Observatory, told Space.com.
In the following months this proved to be true: the planetary defenses moved to NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Center; although Arecibo was a facility dedicated to observing and tracking asteroids, the California observatory is part of the so-called Deep Space Network, which manages the data sent by spacecraft scattered around the solar system (in addition to being used for military purposes). purposes).
“Goldstone management will not be as flexible in scheduling observations for recently discovered targets as Arecibo has always been. If you cannot catch these objects when they are in the observation window, you will miss the opportunity very quickly, which means that you will have to work with greater uncertainty about asteroid orbits. This could be the difference between a space rock hitting Earth and knowing it won’t happen, ”said Vikki.
Arecibo has been receiving less and less money for repairs and improvements for years. Yet he remained the only one capable of keeping planetary surveillance up to date and tracking the Earth. the impending approach of asteroids, especially the huge and most damaging of the planet.