Congress Directs NSF to Provide Report on Arecibo Observatory

Damage sustained at the Arecibo Observatory 305-meter telescope. (Credit: UCF)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Congress has directed that National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide it with a report on the future of the Arecibo Observatory (AO), whose main 305-meter radio telescope collapsed on Dec. 1.

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Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico Collapses

The UCF-managed Arecibo Observatory in the spring of 2019. (Credit: University of Central Florida)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The elevated instrument platform of the 305 meter (1,000 foot) telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico collapsed overnight, crashing into the dish below and adding to the gloom over the previous decision to decommission the iconic facility.

In a tweet, the National Science Foundation (NSF) said there were no injuries reported in the collapse.

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A Second Cable Fails at NSF’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

The UCF-managed Arecibo Observatory in the spring of 2019. (Credit: University of Central Florida)

Engineers are reviewing the new damage and assessing how to best stabilize the facility.

by Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala
University of Central Florida News

A main cable that supports the Arecibo Observatory broke Friday at 7:39 p.m. Puerto Rico time.

Unlike the auxiliary cable that failed at the same facility on Aug. 10, this main cable did not slip out of its socket. It broke and fell onto the reflector dish below, causing additional damage to the dish and other nearby cables. Both cables were connected to the same support tower. No one was hurt, and engineers are already working to determine the best way to stabilize the structure.

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NIAC Award: Flat Fabrication of Progressively Self-Assembling Space Systems

Illustration of the Flat Fabrication of Progressively Self-Assembling Space Systems concept. (Credits: Davide Guzzetti)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC)
Phase I Award
Amount: $125,000

Flat Fabrication of Progressively Self-Assembling Space Systems

Davide Guzzetti
Auburn University

This project aims to study the feasibility of integrating an array of microchips with space satellite functions, or ChipSats, on a multifunctional shape memory polymer (SMP) bus that is capable of self-folding when exposed to solar radiation.

This technology may enable the flat fabrication of kilometer-sized antenna arrays for radio astronomy that self-transform into the operative configuration once in orbit.

NIAC Award: Lunar Crater Radio Telescope on the Far-Side of the Moon

Notional view of LCRT on the far-side of the Moon. (Credits: Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Award
Amount: $125,000

Lunar Crater Radio Telescope (LCRT) on the Far-Side of the Moon

Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 

An ultra-long-wavelength radio telescope on the far-side of the Moon has tremendous advantages compared to Earth-based and Earth-orbiting telescopes, including

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Mid-Year Global Launch Report: China & USA Continue to Battle for Lead

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.

There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)