The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is famed for its key role in discovering the first planets outside our solar system, an ability to identify asteroids en route to Earth and even serving as the backdrop for a climactic action scene in the James Bond film, “GoldenEye.” Now, the observatory is facing potential collapse as two cables have failed and the National Science Foundation has announced it will begin plans to decommission the facility’s telescope as attempts to repair the cables could threaten the safety of workers.

Built in 1963 under the initiative of Cornell electrical engineering professor William Gordon, Arecibo was managed by Cornell University until 2011.

Donald Campbell is a professor of astronomy and was director of the Arecibo Observatory for seven years. He is now the associate director of the observatory’s parent institution, the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center and can speak to Arecibo’s impact on scientific discovery.


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