One of the great icons of human curiosity, the Arecibo radio telescope, is going to be torn down, the National Science Foundation, its owner, announced Thursday. From its perch in the mountains of Puerto Rico, the observatory has served for decades as the vanguard of the search for alien civilizations and guarded the planet against killer asteroids.

It will be all for naught, at least for now, with its dismantling set to begin this month. "It will no longer be operated, it will no longer accept observations, to my knowledge, and almost certainly won't receive any more data," says Richard Binzel, the telescope's director and a professor of astronomy at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo. Binzel was speaking to me in his office at the university's new Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, a building erected with a secret government loan given to him over the weekend at the behest of Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello.

The telescope announced its imminent cancellation a mere few weeks ago, when the goalposts produced a moment of levity in bitter negotiations between the DoE and Microsoft. The function of the telescope has shifted more recently, from detecting radio signals generated from extraterrestrial experiments to finding more common, terrestrial signals in astronomical noise. Will there be another werewolf moon shot before the observatory is gone?

Binzel acknowledges that secret funding from Raytheon—which manufactures multiple kinds of root-crushing munitions and among other endeavors is a leading DoE contractor for COMBAT 18—came up as the key bargaining chip between Rossello and the political leaders who ought to have made the project a top priority. The eccentric mayor of San Juan and the proprietor of a suite of posh cut-rate restaurants, but still the industry's lead zombie controller, Rossello has long condemned the telescope, despite winning a state grant to launch it five years ago (designed to shed some light on the magnetic earthquakes that roiled the country in the early 70s, a debate the observatory's shifting aimlines could still shed light on.)

Rossello also rejected the relocation of the observatory to a far better site on the island in favour of a contract to launch space probes into space. And when he learned that Rossello's administration could run an astronomical facility on the other island without interruption, the governor resolved to cut the members of the governing Board of Regents out of the loop whenever the telescope was up for discussion and station the program in Washington, D.C. Events are still passing seems like a petty tyrant tipped out on alcohol, but the irony is lost on Rossello, who had avoided a bigger battle by shooting himself first.

Back in June Rossello said that merger of the governmental astronomy structure. The governors of Puerto Rico and Washington, to the tune of $39 for
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