Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced signed yesterday an executive order allocating $8 million to rebuild the Arecibo Observatory that collapsed December 1.
Vázquez Garced also declared the observatory site a historic zone.
The executive order states that the reconstruction of the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope is “a matter of public policy”.
“The government of Puerto Rico is convinced that the collapse of the radio telescope brings a great opportunity to redesign it taking into consideration the lessons learned and the recommendations from the scientific community to make it relevant for decades,” said Vázquez Garced, through La Fortaleza’s official website.
She said the $8 million should cover the removal and disposal of debris and the design of the new radio telescope.
The Arecibo radio telescope collapsed last December 1 due to structural problems.
On November 19, the U.S. National Science Foundation, which operates the scientific facility, had reported that the radio telescope would be dismantled because there was a risk of collapse.
“For 57 years, this world-class facility functioned as a research facility with scientific discovery capabilities,” the governor said.
The director of the Observatory, Francisco Córdova; Gerardo Morrell, professor of physics at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR); and Carlos Padín, chancellor of the Ana G. Méndez University, Cupey campus, accompanied the governor during the announcement.
The day after the collapse of the observatory platform, researchers from the UPR in Humacao and members of the scientific community called on the public to sign a call to action before the White House for the reconstruction of the Arecibo Observatory.
Morell highlighted that this effort is still underway and that they have already reached 100,000 signatures.
“Now, this official effort, through the governor, joins in with this public policy that will facilitate the claim made through the 100,000 signatures to crystallize in a design that will eventually result in the construction of a new observatory, even better than the one we had before,” he said.
Meanwhile, Córdova stressed that the site has become an “icon of Puerto Rican culture,” a tourist and science area.
“We have to rebuild. In the world of science, we lack an instrument like the one we had so we can continue making advances that are so important for humanity,” said the director of the Observatory.