In the year 2020, one of the most unpleasant events occurred for the astronomy community: the collapse of Arecibo, a telescope that has given the scientific community some of its greatest joys. At that point, the first impulse was to think of saving her. But then it was concluded that there was no hope. Now all this has changed as the project to build a new Arecibo is already underway.
His rightful heir
It should be borne in mind that the project that has finally been accepted as a viable option is, as we have indicated, the creation of a new model. It is not about rebuilding the original, a process that would require more resources than it is rational to invest in the project. However, plans to build its successor, called the “Next Generation Arecibo Telescope” and discussed in arXiv by Mr. Anish Roshi et al, are progressing at a good pace and everything indicates that it may come true.
For now, several possible designs have been submitted which are being analyzed at Arecibo Observatory to reach a conclusion as to which model will best suit the interests the telescope covers. If all goes well, the new Arecibo will be able to do searches like the original or even more important ones. The bar is set high, though, since the 1960s Arecibo discovered water on Mercury, mapped asteroids both near Earth and other planets, and also used it to send a message to astronomers 25,000 light-years away. I went. Due to its power and potential, the original Arecibo was also used in research processes in search of extraterrestrial life.
What will the new Arecibo be like?
The first thing they are responsible for the project is to overcome the limits that Arecibo previously had. It was a fantastic telescope, but it was built in the 1960s and that means it didn’t take advantage of all the technology available today. For example, the classic model had only one dish and could not move flexibly, which limited its ability to scan the sky.
Therefore, one of the main changes will be found in the abandonment of the single chainring model. There were two options for Arecibo next: either he built one large plate or he set up several units. And the first option was not viable, as the facilities did not have enough space for it. So they had to go for another model. In this sense, the plan that has been established includes a total of 102 13-meter dishes, which will provide a high level of capacity.
With this structure he would be placing himself in front of many of the world’s most important telescopes, also mentioning that the dishes would not be movable, but would be set up in a circular system 130 meters wide. Some experts will appreciate that, even with these features, the size the telescope will provide will be less than the original Arecibo. But this is not a problem, as the structure will provide greater efficiency in a smaller amount of space. This way they will also update the original model to the new trends.
Another advantage of choosing the configuration of dishes in a single structure is that the telescope will now be very flexibly steerable. This will expand the possibilities for analysis and exploration to break the limits with which the first model telescopes were explored. Don’t get your hopes up just yet, however, because the project, even if it has the full support of decision-makers at the observatory, will still take years to complete. It is quite possible that its construction will not be completed for another decade or two.