Three days before the end of 2020, the outgoing Governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vázquez Garced, signed an executive order to fund the initial work that could be the first step in rebuilding the Arecibo radio telescope that collapsed in November. Then a 900-ton platform with equipment collapsed onto a 305-meter antenna, punching a hole in it.
The governor’s order concerns Puerto Rico’s own funds and orders the use of $ 8 million to clean up the debris after the platform and antenna were destroyed, as well as to assess the damage. The complete restoration of the object requires a couple of orders of magnitude more significant sums that only the US Congress can allocate. Meanwhile, the item on the restoration of Arecibo was not included in the 2021 budget.
However, in a note with comments to the budget of the US National Science Foundation, which determines the need for large scientific projects and oversees them, it is prescribed to assess the damage and the feasibility of restoring the radio telescope. In addition, in the spring of 2021, a report is expected from the scientific community of astrophysicists with project plans for the next decade. The reporting team has been notified of the destruction of Arecibo and can make recommendations in this regard.
We add that in her order to finance the cleaning of the radio telescope wreckage and compensate for the damage to the environment, Governor Wanda Vasquez Garced expressed her hope that in the event of the restoration of the radio telescope, it makes sense to upgrade the radio transmitter, increase the effective antenna aperture and field of view. It is unlikely that this is within the competence of local authorities, but the idea is correct. There, in fact, everything will have to be built from scratch, saving, perhaps, on site preparation.
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