Engineers on-site started working to scale back the load positioned on these cables, partly by attempting to calm down a sequence of “backstay” cables that helped the tower itself stay upright. In accordance with Zauderer, different choices concerned utilizing a crew tethered to a helicopter to take away weight from the help tower, however security considerations finally grounded that concept. Regardless, it quickly turned all too clear that the Arecibo complicated was dwelling on borrowed time.
“After the November sixth cable failure, the [remaining] cables may have failed at any time,” mentioned Gaume. “We have been unable to foretell when it might occur, [but] we knew it might occur.” Gaume later famous that, it doesn’t matter what the Arecibo floor crew tried, they “would have by no means been in a position to relieve sufficient load to get the cables again to the situation earlier than November sixth.”
The group’s worst fears got here to move on December 1st, when — after monitoring particular person wires snapping underneath the pressure — the second essential cable stretching from Tower 4 to the receiver platform failed. The receiver’s weight was then being borne at one finish by simply two cables, each of which failed fractions of a second after the primary one did, sending the platform careening down into the large reflector dish. In the meantime, Tower 4 was immediately freed from weight to hold to help, however was nonetheless being pulled by seven backstay cables — that stress despatched the highest 65 toes of the tower tumbling backwards. And throughout the dish, the identical factor was taking place to Tower 12; its high part was despatched rolling down a hill close to the Arecibo operations constructing. Thankfully, nobody was injured.
Now, the one factor left to do is decide up the items — fairly actually. Gaume mentioned the NSF expects to have a “full evaluation” of the injury attributable to the collapse and its environmental affect by the tip of this week. And whereas the NSF hasn’t dominated out the potential for restoring or rebuilding the power, it might’t occur with out important enter from different events.
“NSF has a really well-defined course of for constructing main analysis tools and services,” he mentioned. “It entails Congress appropriating funding, together with evaluation and enter by the scientific group, together with analysis and different stakeholders. That course of would wish to play out.”