Updated on September 22 at 9:45 a.m. EDT
Hurricane Maria knocked out power to all of Puerto Rico and its 3.5 million residents this week, including the researchers who kept watch over the the world’s second-largest radio telescope as the storm hit.
The Arecibo Observatory, located about 60 miles west of San Juan, on Monday suspended planned observations and started “hurricane-readiness procedures” to secure its telescope and research equipment as Hurricane Maria approached. The hurricane made landfall early Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, bringing heavy rain and 155-mile-per-hour winds. The storm destroyed homes, flooded roadways, and killed at least one person.
News reports of damage began to emerge Thursday, but communication remained limited. The Universities Space Research Association (USRA), one of Arecibo’s operators, said in a statement that it had lost contact with the observatory after the storm hit. After hours of silence, they regained contact Thursday night.
Radio contact est. w/ @NAICobservatory - staff & family sheltered there are safe. AO has some damage, we have to wait for full assessment.— USRA (@USRAedu) September 22, 2017
Puerto Rico officials say it could take months to restore electricity in Puerto Rico.