The wave of earthquakes that hit Puerto Rico make it unaware of the concrete damage that the observatory has suffered and when it will work again
The Arecibo Observatory, in Puerto Rico, one of the most important facilities used by the United States to monitor nearby asteroids, has been temporarily closed due to earthquakes. It is unknown when it will be operational again.
A series of earthquakes, with intensities of up to 6.4 degrees on the Ritcher scale, are shaking the island of Puerto Rico and the Arecibo Observatory, a key center in space research, has also suffered the consequences.
According to sources, a preliminary drone analysis has not found any visible damage to the radio telescope plate or the measuring equipment on it. However, it is necessary for the observatory staff to examine these elements, which cannot be carried out until the earth tremors are over, the end date of which is unknown.
Hurricane Maria already affected it
In this way, the activity of the Arecibo Observatory has been interrupted at the beginning of the year, just when this scientific enclave was preparing to embark on a year full of repairs of the damages caused by Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico in 2017. The observatory continued to carry out scientific work after the storm, but the data obtained after the damage have not been of the same quality as those gathered before the hurricane.
The Arecibo Observatory is one of the key facilities used by the United States for the study of nearby asteroids. From the observatory, a radar beam is launched and the light that bounces off the space asteroids is measured. Such observations give scientists clues about the size, shape and composition of an asteroid, giving a better idea of whether the rock represents a collision risk.
Puerto Rico is being hit by a series of earthquakes since last December 28. According to a statement published by the United States Geological Survey, the area has experienced more than 30 earthquakes of magnitude 4 or stronger since that date, while there have been more than 500 tremors of less intensity.