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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Arecibo Observatory

Dubbed "an ear to heaven," Observatorio de Arecibo contains the world's largest and most sensitive radar/radio-telescope. The telescope features a 20-acre (8-hectare) dish, or radio mirror, set in an ancient sinkhole. It's 1,000 feet (300m) in diameter and 167 feet (50m) deep, and it allows scientists to monitor natural radio emissions from distant galaxies, pulsars, and quasars, and to examine the ionosphere, the planets, and the moon using powerful radar signals. Used by scientists as part of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), this is the same site featured in the movie Contact with Jodie Foster. This research effort speculates that advanced civilizations elsewhere in the universe might also communicate via radio waves. The 10-year, $100 million search for life in space was launched on October 12, 1992, the 500-year anniversary of the New World's discovery by Columbus.
Unusually lush vegetation flourishes under the giant dish, including ferns, wild orchids, and begonias. Assorted creatures like mongooses, lizards, and dragonflies have also taken refuge there. Suspended in outlandish fashion above the dish is a 600-ton platform that resembles a space station. This is not a site where you'll be launched into a Star Wars journey through the universe. You are allowed to walk around the platform, taking in views of this gigantic dish. At the Angel Ramos Foundation Visitor Center, you are treated to interactive exhibitions on the various planetary systems and introduced to the mystery of meteors and educated about intriguing weather phenomena.


Anonymous gracemom said...

Beautiful pictures! I never knew Puerto Rico was so pretty! Thanks for sharing!

10:08 PM  

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