The massive Arecibo Observatory radio telescope, made famous in the James Bond movie GoldenEye and paid homage to in the classic Nintendo 64 game, completely collapsed early Tuesday morning. This breaking news comes just a few weeks after the announcement that the invaluable astronomy tool would be demolished due to fears that it would completely collapse.
The telescope’s demise began in August of this year, when a socket holding one of the auxiliary cables suspending the 816 T receiver platform hanging over the dish failed, causing the cable to break. The National Science Foundation began planning the site’s demolition last month following the breaking of the platform’s main cable. As if the massive mechanical construct sensed the end was near, the receiver platform collapsed completely in the early hours of Tuesday, December 1, crashing into the dish near 152.40 m below. No one was harmed in the collapse.
Built in the early 1960s in a natural sinkhole in Puerto Rico, the Arecibo Telescope was a 304.80 m reflector dish primarily used for radio astronomy, radar astronomy, atmospheric science, and programs created to search for proof of extraterrestrial life. Aside from its magnificent dish, the radio telescope’s most distinguishing feature was the cable-mount steerable receiver positioned above the main installation. The receiver’s unique look and perilous structure are what led to it being used as the stage for the climactic battle in 1995 James Bond classic, GoldenEye. The movie scene served as the inspiration for the “Cradle” level in Rare’s GoldenEye 007 for the N64.
The collapse of the Arecibo telescope is a tragic loss to science, having been used for decades as a tool for research and teaching. Now everyone’s going to have to borrow China’s 500-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope, as seen in Battlefield 4’s Rogue Transmission map.