UCF-managed telescope in Puerto Rico that was key in astronomical discoveries collapses

Huge radio telescope at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico (Photo by RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images)

A huge radio telescope in Puerto Rico that has long played a key role in astronomical discoveries collapsed on Tuesday, officials said.

The Arecibo Observatory had been shuttered since August after an auxiliary cable snapped and caused a 100-foot gash on the reflector dish. Then a main cable broke in early November, leading the National Science Foundation to declare just weeks later that it planned to close the radio telescope because the damage was too great.

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Many scientists and Puerto Ricans mourned the news, with some tearing up during interviews.

It is the second-largest radio telescope in the world and had been operating for more than half a century. The University of Central Florida (UCF) manages the facility under a cooperative agreement with Universidad Ana G. Méndez and Yang Enterprises Inc. for the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Arecibo is reportedly also home to a team that runs the Planetary Radar Project supported by NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program in NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office through a grant awarded to UCF.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.