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MI6 visits the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico,
the real-life location of the final showdown between
007 and 006 in "GoldenEye"
The World Of James Bond Movies - Arecibo Observatory
19th April 2005
At the end of Goldeneye we find James Bond
and Natalya Simonova in Cuba looking for a gigantic satellite
dish that they have been told by the CIA does not exist.
Flying over a lake they are shot down, and after recovering
from the crash landing they watch as the lake drains, exposing
the huge radio telescope used to control the Goldeneye satellite.
This section of the film was actually filmed in Puerto
Rico, the 305-metre satellite dish in reality the Arecibo
Observatory, the largest radio telescope in the world.
Above: The dish is located in Puerto
Separated from Cuba by Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean,
Puerto Rico is ideally situated to double as Cuba, and belonging
to the Commonwealth of The United States (a situation that many
Puerto Ricans are unhappy with), straightforward for filmmakers
Above: The Arecibo Observatory is
the largest radio telescope in the world.
Operated by the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC),
the radio telescope works around the clock and is available to
scientists throughout the world to observe the universe. The large
size of the dish, which is covered in 38,778 perforated aluminium
panels, makes it extremely sensitive to distant radio signals
and measurements that can take several hours with a smaller dish
can be completed in several minutes at Arecibo.
Above: A view into the dish
Suspended above the dish by three reinforced
concrete towers, one of 110 metres and the other two 80
metres high, is a platform weighing over 800 tonnes. Below
the triangular upper frame of the platform are a circular
track and a curved track that suspends a dome (installed
subsequent to Goldeneye in 1996), containing two sub-reflectors
to refocus radiation to a set of antennae.
A system of 26 electric motors allows the dome to be moved
via the two tracks, allowing the telescope to be focused
in the sky. Attached to the antennae are very sensitive
radio receivers, which are immersed in liquid helium to
reduce electron noise and visitors to the site are required
to turn off mobile phones to avoid interference.
To allow work on the dish special shoes
must be worn. Similar to a snowshoe, they protect the panels
from damage by distributing the wearer’s weight.
The observatory is open to the pubic and can be reached
from San Juan in 1 hour 15 minutes by road, the last section
of which involves a spectacular winding drive amid lush
Cost is $4 per person and includes entrance to a small
exhibition, a short film, and a viewing area from where
visitors can look down at the dish. Opening hours are 12:00-16:00
Wednesday-Friday and 09:00-16:00 at weekends.
Right: One of the special shoes required
to walk on the dish for maintenance.