One of the world's largest scientific instruments, the renowned Arecibo Observatory telescope has collapsed under its own weight.
It was a crushing end for the observatory in Puerto Rico, that had contributed to the search for inbound 'killer' asteroids, life on other planets, and work that was rewarded with a Nobel Prize.
On Tuesday morning, the 800-tonne receiver relay came crashing down on the 300-metre dish putting the station out of action for good. In August the radio telescope was retired by a fault, ending an illustrious 57-year career in the sciences.
The space-age landmark is perhaps most widely recognised as the set of the 1995 James Bond movie GoldenEye. Built over a sink hole in the mountainous jungle, the Bond Villain's lair came to a suitably dramatic end.
However, there were few people around to witness the end of the world's former largest radio telescope.
"It sounded like a rumble. I knew exactly what it was," said Jonathan Friedman, a senior research associate for the observatory of 25-years, who still lives nearby.
"I was screaming. Personally, I was out of control," he told Associated Press. "I don't have words to express it. It's a very deep, terrible feeling."
From a hill many kilometres away, Friedman was able to see the dust and wreckage of the recently collapsed landmark.
The observatory was one of the most important to the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, looking for signs of life on other planets.
The SETI institute wound up its association with the site on November 20, when the Arecibo was decommissioned and scheduled for controlled disassembly. However before it could be taken apart the dish broke apart.
It had been a long time in the coming. In August an auxiliary cable snapped, causing a 33metre tear in the telescope dish, putting the remaining cables under even greater pressure.
The University of Central Florida, which managed the facility had been warning about a possible collapse since the beginning of the year. "Each of the structure's remaining cables is now supporting more weight than before, increasing the likelihood of another cable failure, which would likely result in the collapse of the entire structure," said the University in a statement.
At the time the University had been trying to raise $12 for repairs. Now the cost or rebuilding the station is likely to be out of reach.
Alex Wolszczan, a Polish-born scientist told Associate Press it was "a very important instrument" which had been used to prove many "wild theories".
The Arecibo Observatory was used to prove Albert Einstein's the theories of 'gravitational waves' in space, and spotted the first glimpse of extra-solar planets, like Earth around other stars.
Even when out of action, the crumbling research station was one of Puerto Rico's top tourist attractions, bringing in 90,000 visitors a year.
As well as tourists, the observatory helped launch some stellar scientific careers. Professor Carmen Pantoja of the University of Puerto Rico said she remembers the dish as she was growing up on the island, and how it eventually played a role in her own research: "I was struck by how big and mysterious it was."
- With Associated Press