The National Science Foundation released breathtaking video on Thursday that captures the very momentinto the 1,000 foot wide bowl below. A drone happened to be doing a close inspection of the cables that were still holding the platform above the bowl when the cables snapped Tuesday.
The video from the giant radio telescope shows both the drone footage and the view from a camera in the visitor center showing the platform falling into the bowl just above the jungle floor in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Two massive pieces of the cement towers that the cables were attached to can also be seen falling.
Two of the cables were previously torn, one in August anddestabilize the telescope.
A drone was inspecting the spot on one of the towers where one of the previous cable breaks had occurred when the rest suddenly snapped.
NSF recently decided to decommission the telescope after a second cable broke in November.
“It was a dangerous situation,” John Abruzzo, who works for an engineering firm called Thornton Tomasetti, which was signed by the NSF, told reporters Thursday. “These cables could have failed at any time.”
They did it on Tuesday.
The NSF reports that no one was injured in the collapse and that the visitor center sustained only minor damage.
The telescope, which worked for nearly 60 years, was the setting for a dramatic battle scene in the 1995 James Bond film Gold eye with Pierce Brosnan. It also appeared in the 1997 Jodie Foster film Contact. But Arecibo’s real legacy lies in that many scientific discoveries made it possible. It researched pulsars, expanded our knowledge of Mercury, discovered exoplanets, and found rapid bursts of radio waves.