Puerto Rico’s iconic Arecibo Observatory will not be replaced after collapsing 2 years ago. Spectacular photos and videos show pieces of the broken telescope being overtaken by the jungle.

Side-by-side images of the Arecibo Observatory, before and after its collapse, show the dramatic damage that ended an era of space research.

Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, left, before the 2020 collapse, and after the collapse, right, in October 2022.Arecibo Observatory/Paola Rosa-Aquino

  • Before and after images of the Arecibo Observatory show a dramatic collapse that ended an era of space research.

  • Astronomers mourned the loss of the observatory, which faced natural disasters.

  • For nearly 60 years, the Arecibo Observatory has made important contributions to astronomy.

The Arecibo Observatory, a legendary radio telescope nestled in the lush mountains of Puerto Rico, has served as a vital vantage point on the cosmos for nearly six decades.

From tracking asteroids to discovering the first planets outside our solar system, Arecibo has made fundamental contributions to our knowledge of space.

The telescope’s observing equipment hung from a suspended platform above a 1,000-foot satellite dish until December 1, 2020. Following a series of series of misfortunes, ranging from earthquakes to hurricanes, the cables supporting this platform gave way, causing the telescope to collapse onto the vast flat below.

Here’s how the telescope is doing two years after its collapse.

The telescope was built in a natural sinkhole northwest of Puerto Rico.

high altitude photo of the Arecibo observatory

A high-altitude view of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, taken in the 1980s.Arecibo Observatory

Members of the neighboring communities of Arecibo participated in the construction of the observatory.

Workers connecting and lifting the cables that support the platform in September 1962.

Workers connecting and lifting the cables that supported the platform in September 1962.Arecibo Observatory

The observatory opened in November 1963. It was initially made of wire mesh, which meant you could see through the chasm below.

Aerial view of the William E. Gordon Telescope in its earliest form.

Aerial view of the William E. Gordon Telescope at Arecibo before its parabolic plates were replaced in 1973.Cornell University/Arecibo Observatory

Arecibo was a workhorse for astronomers.

Astronomers Larry Webster and Jill Tarter look at computer screens at the observatory October 10, 1992. They are working on beginning a search for signs of extraterrestrial life.

Astronomers Larry Webster and Jill Tarter look at computer screens at the observatory on October 10, 1992. They begin a search for signs of extraterrestrial life.Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

In 1974, he broadcast the first radio message intended for a foreign audience. The coded message detailed the chemical formulas of the components of DNA, along with simple drawings of a human figure and Arecibo.

telescope designs

Arecibo’s message, with colors added to highlight the DNA, human and telescope designs. Astronomers hoped it would be heard by any intelligent civilization living near the Milky Way galaxy.norro

It detected the first known exoplanet orbiting a pulsar, or the dense remnants of a collapsed giant radiation-emitting star, in 1992.

Artist's impression of the extrasolar planets in the pulsar, PSR B1257+12.

Artist’s impression of extrasolar planets in the PSR B1257+12 pulsar.NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt

The telescope was a movie star thanks to appearances in “GoldenEye” and “Contact.”

A screenshot of Jamie Foster from the film

Arecibo Observatory was featured in the 1997 film “Contact”, starring Jodie Foster.ostinatoscopy/YouTube

The radio telescope had a 1,000-foot-wide aluminum-lined dish that covered 18 acres in northwest Puerto Rico.

Man on cables above ground on radio telescope

A technician checks the cables that suspend the receiver above the radio telescope dish in July 1989.Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Cables helped support a metal platform above the dish.

Aerial view of the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Aerial view of the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico on July 9, 2012.Universal Images Group/Getty Images

The receiver was on a 900-ton platform, suspended 450 feet above the dish, on a 304-foot swing arm.

The receiver was on a 900-ton platform suspended 450 feet above the dish on a 304-foot swing arm.

The massive Arecibo dish reflected radio waves from space back to its suspended platform, July 9, 2012.Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It collapsed in December 2020, after being battered by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and rocked by earthquakes.

The cables that connected the suspended platform to one of the towers broke.

Two critical cables snapped, causing the suspended platform to collapse and the Arecibo dish to tear.Paola Rosa Aquino

Videos of the crash show it started when cables connecting the suspended platform to one of the towers snapped.

There are 19,000 panels remaining on the flat from the original 37,000.

There are 19,000 panels remaining on the flat from the original 37,000.

The collapse damaged many panels that were receiving incoming radio waves, leaving an expanse of greenery below.Paola Rosa Aquino

Side-by-side images of the Arecibo Observatory, before and after it collapsed, show dramatic damage that ended an era of space research.

Side-by-side images of the Arecibo Observatory, before and after its collapse, show the dramatic damage that ended an era of space research.

Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, left, before the 2020 collapse, and after the collapse, right, in October 2022.Arecibo Observatory/Paola Rosa-Aquino

The National Science Foundation recently announced that it will not rebuild Arecibo. The telescope’s legacy, however, will live on.

Entrance to the Arecibo Observatory in October 2022.

Entrance to the Arecibo Observatory, in October 2022.Paola Rosa Aquino

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