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Drone footage captures the moment cables supporting the 900-ton Arecibo Observatory SNAP and cause the world's largest telescope to collapse

 New footage of Arecibo Observatory collapsing in the jungle of Puerto Rico shows the moment its main cables snapped and sent a massive platform hurling to the ground - triggering a reaction that led to its destruction.

Drones were investigating cables around the telescope when the restraints failed and dropped the 900-ton platform onto to the reflector dish 400 feet below.

In one of the videos, the platform begins swaying in the air before letting out a loud roar as it dislodged from the supporting cable and snapping into pieces as it dropped.


The second part of the clip is a view of the cables at the top of a support tower, which shows a group of frayed wires and an empty spot where cables were that had previously failed this year.

One of the cables begins to strain and then violently flies out of its support, creating a cloud of smoke and debris.

The drone pans to the left and captures the catastrophic event of the fallen platform, catwalk and azimuth arm. 


Devastating footage of Arecibo Observatory collapsing in the jungle of Puerto Rico shows the moment the telescope’s main cables snapped and sent a massive platform hurling to the ground

Devastating footage of Arecibo Observatory collapsing in the jungle of Puerto Rico shows the moment the telescope’s main cables snapped and sent a massive platform hurling to the ground

The collapse occurred around 8am local time Tuesday that scientists stunned who relied on what was once the world’s largest telescope to uncover cosmic wonders in deep space.

Ramon Lugo, director of the Florida Space Institute at the University of Central Florida, which manages the 57-year-old radio telescope for the National Science Foundation (NSF), told Daily Mail.com in an email: ‘Well when I got the call the morning I felt like throwing up... then I felt very sad.'


‘I have worked with this team for almost 3 years... we have accomplished a lot, now there is uncertainty. I feel bad for the staff, some have spent their entire careers at the Observatory. I feel like I let them down.’

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released the footage of the collapse Thursday, which shows two different views of the event. 

The first clip provides a view looking up at the platform and begins with the massive structure still attached to the cable. It begins to sway, which is when the main cable snapped from one of the three surrounding support towers

The first clip provides a view looking up at the platform and begins with the massive structure still attached to the cable. It begins to sway, which is when the main cable snapped from one of the three surrounding support towers

The platform breaks away from the cable, splits into pieces and disappears from the frame

The platform breaks away from the cable, splits into pieces and disappears from the frame

The first clip provides a view looking up at the platform and begins with the massive structure still attached to the cable.

It begins to sway, which is when the main cable snapped from one of the three surrounding support towers.

The platform breaks away from the cable, splits into pieces and disappears from the frame.

Moments after, the tops of the towers, some which measure 60 feet long, tumble over from the pressure

Moments after, the tops of the towers, some which measure 60 feet long, tumble over from the pressure

The second portion of the video shared by NSF provides an up-close look at the main cable breaking from the top of Tower 4. The clip shows two cables are missing, both failed this year, and the main cable appears to be slowly fraying apart

The second portion of the video shared by NSF provides an up-close look at the main cable breaking from the top of Tower 4. The clip shows two cables are missing, both failed this year, and the main cable appears to be slowly fraying apart

Moments after, the tops of the towers, some which measure 60 feet long, tumble over from the pressure.

John Abruzzo, managing principal of Thornton Tomasetti, was sent in with a team to assess the collapse and said it involved ‘some violent and unpredicted behavior,’ Gizmodo reports.

The second portion of the video shared by NSF provides an up-close look at the main cable breaking from the top of Tower 4.

The telescope was built in the 1960s with money from the Defense Department amid a push to develop anti-ballistic missile defenses  (pictured taken Nov. 19)

The telescope was built in the 1960s with money from the Defense Department amid a push to develop anti-ballistic missile defenses  (pictured taken Nov. 19)

The middle of the three remaining cables violent breaks off from the Tower, which seems to have snapped another supporting the catwalk– triggering the entire structure to collapse

The middle of the three remaining cables violent breaks off from the Tower, which seems to have snapped another supporting the catwalk– triggering the entire structure to collapse

Scientists said they were aware of a deteriorating situation and notified NSF on Monday about their concerns that Arecibo would collapse this week

Scientists said they were aware of a deteriorating situation and notified NSF on Monday about their concerns that Arecibo would collapse this week

The clip shows two cables are missing, both failed this year, and the main cable appears to be slowly fraying apart.

Abruzzo said that each cable is made of 170 wires.

The middle of the three remaining cables violent breaks off from the Tower, which seems to have snapped another supporting the catwalk– triggering the entire structure to collapse.

Lugo said he and his team were aware of a deteriorating situation and notified NSF on Monday about their concerns that Arecibo would collapse this week.

Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puerto Rico played a key role in astronomical discoveries for more than half a century has collapsed

Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puerto Rico played a key role in astronomical discoveries for more than half a century has collapsed

The giant telescope was also used in programs that search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) because its location provided scientists access to one-third of the cosmos

The giant telescope was also used in programs that search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) because its location provided scientists access to one-third of the cosmos

Arecibo Observatory  was built in the 1960s with money from the Defense Department amid a push to develop anti-ballistic missile defenses

It is famous for detecting whirling pulsars, capturing geological features of Mars and helping astronomers discover the near-Earth asteroid Bennu, along with making an appearance in the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye.

The giant telescope was also used in programs that search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) because its location provided scientists access to one-third of the cosmos.

SETI Institute gave the telescope a personal, Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomert wrote: 'Losing Arecibo is like losing a big brother. While life will continue, something powerful and profoundly wonderful is gone.’

Arecibo Observatory suffered another failure in August when an auxiliary cable broke that resulted in a 100-foot gash on the 1,000-foot-wide dish and damaged the receiver platform that hung above it. 

The NFS said crews who evaluated the structure after the first incident, but determined that the remaining cables could handle the additional weight.

While the observatory was awaiting delivery of two replacement auxiliary cables, as well as two temporary cables, another main cable broke on the same tower on November 6.

Arecibo Observatory suffered another failure in August when an auxiliary cable broke that resulted in a 100-foot gash on the 1,000-foot-wide dish and damaged the receiver platform that hung above it. But another cable failed this month, which led to the devastating collapse

Arecibo Observatory suffered another failure in August when an auxiliary cable broke that resulted in a 100-foot gash on the 1,000-foot-wide dish and damaged the receiver platform that hung above it. But another cable failed this month, which led to the devastating collapse 

This tore a new hole in the dish and damaged nearby cables, leading officials to warn that the entire structure could collapse.

Ralph Gaume, director of NSF's Division of Astronomical Sciences, said: 'Leadership at Arecibo Observatory and UCF did a commendable job addressing this situation, acting quickly and pursuing every possible option to save this incredible instrument.'

'In the end, a preponderance of data showed that we simply could not do this safely and that is a line we cannot cross.' 

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