AN AMAZING FACT: Along the coastal plains of Puerto Rico is a giant aluminum “ear” that measures 1,000 feet across. Located 10 miles south of the coastal city of Arecibo, this enormous space-age radio telescope dish is aimed into the sky, listening. Built in 1963 by Cornell University at a cost of nine million dollars, the Arecibo Observatory dish is the largest curved focusing antenna on Earth. It also has the largest electromagnetic-wave gathering capacity
The colossal collecting bowl was constructed inside a natural crater left by a huge sinkhole. The dish is made of nearly 40,000 aluminum panels, which are supported by steel cables. The vast antenna surface covers 18 acres—the same area as 26 football fields! Operated by the National Science Foundation, the facility requires a full-time staff of 140 people. Most of the staff are technicians and engineers, and nearly 30 are astronomers from all over the world.
When the huge telescope switches to a radar mode, it beams out a power signal of one million watts toward planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. The faint echo of the signal bouncing off the astronomical targets is collected by the huge dish and then amplified, allowing scientists to create scanner-like images and maps of the object. One of the other goals of this tremendous radio telescope is SETI-the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. For over 45 years, radio astronomers at the Arecibo Observatory have been studying the radio signals emanating from the cosmos. Yet in nearly half a century of listening, SETI has not identified a single radio signal that seems to come from extra-terrestrial intelligence.
Nevertheless, messages have already come from space! In Revelation 14, we read of three angels flying through the sky, calling out in loud voices to the inhabitants of the earth. The word “angel” simply means “messenger,” so these angels represent God’s three-part message to the world at the end of time. Not only should these messages be carefully understood and heeded, but God’s end-time church will have a part in spreading these messages. And once they are preached to “every nation,” Jesus will return and take His children to their new home—where we won’t need the Arecibo Observatory any longer!
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Revelation 14:6