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Damaged SETI Observatory Could Be Sidelined for Months

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The iconic Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico was damaged last week when a large cable fell onto the radio telescope’s main reflector dish. We’re now learning more about this unfortunate incident, including how long it might take until the beleaguered observatory is back online.

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During the early morning of Monday August 10, a thick auxiliary cable used to support a metal platform dropped onto the main reflector dish, producing a 100-foot-long gash. The golf ball-like Gregorian Dome was also damaged, as was a platform used to access the dome, which houses a multi-beam receiver. No one was hurt during the incident, but scientific work at Puerto Rico’s famous Arecibo Observatory is now on hold, pending repairs.

During a virtual press conference held on August 14, Francisco Córdova, the director of the Arecibo Observatory, described it as an “unprecedented event,” saying the cables, which were installed around 20 years ago, were supposed to last for another 15 to 20 years. Importantly, however, the cable did not snap. Rather, the 3-inch thick cable slipped out from a socket located on one of the observatory’s three support towers, he said.

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The exact cause of the failure is still unknown. Ray Lugo, director of the Florida Space Institute, is now overseeing the investigation, which is still in its early stages, as he explained during the press conference. Lugo refused to “speculate about a timeframe” for the repairs, saying the investigation is the current focus, as is the need to protect people working at the facility. Only until a reason for the failure is determined can a timeframe for repairs be established, he said.

Lindley Johnson, director of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, was more forthright during an August 17 meeting of NASA’s Planetary Science Advisory Committee, saying Arecibo will probably be out of commission for “several months,” as SpaceNews reports.

The Arecibo Observatory is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), but NASA also contributes to the observatory, which it uses to track and study near-Earth asteroids.

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“Damage to Arecibo is still being assessed by the Observatory management at the University of Central Florida, after which the NSF will consult with stakeholders, including NASA, to determine how to proceed,” explained a NASA spokesperson in an email.

Over 655 feet of cable (200 meters) fell onto the dish, and given that the cable weighs 66 pounds (30 kg) per meter, that’s “several tons of material crashing down onto the dish,” Johnson said. Radar equipment used by NASA was not damaged, he added.

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Córdova said 250 primary reflector panels were damaged by the falling cable, as were several support cables underneath the primary dish. The “priority is not replacement,” he said, given the dish is fitted with 40,000 panels. This is “not a huge deal,” as the “primary reflector is in good shape,” he said. More complicated right now is knowing if the platform has retained the structural integrity required to continue operations and “whether it’s safe for the team to be up there,” Córdova said. Thankfully, he doesn’t expect to find damage inside the Gregorian Dome, including to its receivers and transmitters.

The investigators do not yet know if Hurricane Maria, which ravaged the island three years ago, had anything to do with the failure. A variety of astronomical work is now on hold, as is an investigation into gravitational waves and NASA’s planetary defense project to track near-Earth asteroids, explained Córdova.

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The iconic observatory, in addition to coping with ongoing fiscal uncertainty, experienced some damage when Hurricane Maria ripped through in 2017. For the team at Arecibo, this latest setback is just “another bump in the road,” said Córdova, to which he added: “We’re a fairly pretty resilient bunch, and we proved that after Maria.”

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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