Through the voice of its governor Wanda Vazquez, the island of Puerto Rico announced the allocation of 8 million dollars for the reconstruction of the Arecibo Observatory, whose giant telescope sadly collapsed on December 1.
There’s a glimmer of hope for the collapsed Arecibo Observatory telescope as 2020 draws to a close. El Nuevo Dia reports that Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez has signed an executive order approving $8 million to help rebuild the radio telescope. Its reconstruction is important as a matter of “public policy” and reestablishing the Observatory as a “world-class educational center,” the Governor’s office said.
The National Science Foundation said it would tear down the Observatory as repairs would be too dangerous, although that doesn’t rule out building a new structure in its place.
We wouldn’t see this as more than a start. The $8 million in funding is unlikely to come anywhere close to reconstructing the telescope. We’ve asked the NSF for comment on the financial pledge, but it’s safe to presume a revival would require additional help.
Still, the funds represent an important step. They signal the territory’s commitment to Arecibo and its space studies despite the loss. They might also spur some in the US government to devote the extra funding needed to resurrect the Observatory. Don’t be surprised if 2021 is a brighter year for the facility, even if any rebuilding effort is likely to take much longer.