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End of a scientific era: So long Arecibo

Growing up in the 70s and 80s, one of the symbols of our scientific search of the cosmos was the Arecibo Observatory, located in Puerto Rico. This huge radio telescope and it’s massive dish was a formidable sight to behold. This telescope has searched the skies for 50 years for the National Science Foundation. In 1974, the telescope was used to transmit the ‘Arecibo Message’, a simple message pointed in the direction of the globular cluster Messier 13 (approx. 25,000 light-years away) built in binary code (0s and 1s) that sent a bitmap image that included numbers, stick figures, chemical formulae and a rendering of the telescope itself.

It was further used later by the SETI and METI projects in the search for extra terrestrial life.

In the last few years it had become damaged, and it has been deemed too risky to repair. So the huge telescope will be destroyed. No one knows if there will be a replacement built in its place.

So pour one out for the iconic telescope. It brought us closer to first contact. It served as an amazing backdrop in a Bond film. It was a symbol of scientific exploration here on earth that will never be forgotten.

Image Credit: Todd Van Hoosear