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Would more preventative maintenance, more regular inspection of the cables have helped? Robotic/drone inspection systems? Could the right robotic system have done work to save it in the last few weeks had one been available?

https://www.space.com/arecibo-observatory-radio-telescope-to-be-destroyed

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  • $\begingroup$ This will be hard to answer without detailed knowledge what damage has been found. Without an expert opinion of somebody who actually surveyed the damage we can probably only speculate. Although I'm sure there are techbros who'll claim they could've fixed it easily from their sofa. $\endgroup$ – Stephan Matthiesen Nov 20 at 22:21
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    $\begingroup$ There is also a strong political component here. NSF has, for years, tried to kill off Arecibo, but it's effectively been saved by the review panels they were required to convene to make policy decisions. The cables snapping gave them an "out" and that could be part of the reason behind the decision to decommission it. $\endgroup$ – Stuart Robbins Nov 21 at 0:44
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    $\begingroup$ Lots of preventive maintenance, and likely a major rebuild at some point. Major infrastructure needs major attention. Why did they build a new Tappen Zee bridge across the Hudson? $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Nov 22 at 2:46
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    $\begingroup$ Better to knock it down safely than risk lives trying to save it. A combination of too expensive to keep and not quite good enough to justify it, unique - yes, but not not quite enough. Maybe something better will be developed in it's place. It is, at the end of the day, just a piece of equipment and they have limited lifespans. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Nov 22 at 7:08
  • $\begingroup$ Yes of course, but whether the "right robotic system" is feasible with current technology in time is not a question for Astronomy SE. Engineering SE would be the perfect place for the question, if you add a bit more information to it. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 22 at 7:39

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