James Bond has fought villains in many iconic locations around the world over the years, from the Giza Pyramids to the Eiffel Tower. One of the most memorable showdowns took place at the end of 1996's GoldenEye, in which Pierce Brosnan's Bond took on Alec Trevelyan, played by Sean Bean, on the massive Arecibo space telescope deep in the Puerto Rican jungle. Sadly, it's now been reported that the telescope and observatory will be shut down after 57 years.
The decision to decommission the Arecibo Observatory by the National Science Foundation, the US agency responsible for it, follows two major accidents in the past few months. Operations were initially halted in August when a supporting cable became loose and fell onto the telescope's reflector dish, creating a 30-metre hole in the 305m-wide surface. A second cable broke this month, making another hole and damaging nearby cables.
As a result, the NSF has decided to start a "controlled decommissioning" of the observatory. In a statement, NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan said, "NSF prioritizes the safety of workers, Arecibo Observatory's staff and visitors, which makes this decision necessary, although unfortunate. For nearly six decades, the Arecibo Observatory has served as a beacon for breakthrough science and what a partnership with a community can look like. While this is a profound change, we will be looking for ways to assist the scientific community and maintain that strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico."
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