The Giant Magellan Telescope manufactures the last of its 7 mirrors

The Giant Magellan Telescope manufactures the last of its 7 mirrors

2023-09-27 10:28:35


The Giant Magellan Telescope is a large ground-based telescope project planned for completion by the end of this decade. faces the culmination of its enormous optical element.

The Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory at the University of Arizona has begun the four-year process to fabricate and polish its seventh and final primary mirror, the last one needed to complete the telescope’s 368 square meter light collecting surface, the largest and most challenging optic ever produced in the world.

Together, the mirrors will collect more light than any other existing telescope, allowing humanity to unlock the secrets of the Universe by providing Detailed chemical analyzes of celestial objects and their origin.

Nearly 20 tons of the purest optical glass were introduced last week into a unique furnace located beneath the stands of the Arizona Wildcats football stadium. The rotating furnace will heat the glass to 1,165°C so that when it melts, it is forced out to form the paraboloid curved surface of the mirror. With a diameter of 8.4 meters (about two stories tall when standing on edge), the mirror will cool for the next three months before moving on to the polishing stage.

Once assembled, The seven mirrors will work together as one 25.4 meter monolithic mirror (a diameter equal to the length of an adult blue whale), which will result in up to 200 times the sensitivity and four times the image resolution of the most advanced mirrors on space telescopes today.

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The Giant Magellan Telescope will be the first extremely large telescope to complete its primary mirror array. With a robust operational infrastructure completed at the telescope site in Chile, Focused manufacturing is underway on the telescope’s critical subsystems before starting the enclosure.

“We are in an important stage of manufacturing, and much of the manufacturing is done in the United States,” he explains it’s a statement Robert Shelton, president of the Giant Magellan Telescope. The 39-meter-tall telescope structure is being manufactured from 2,100 tons of steel in Rockford, Illinois, and the first of the telescope’s seven adaptive secondary mirrors, one with each of the seven primary mirrors, is being manufactured.

Rebecca Bernstein, chief scientist of the Giant Magellan Telescope, stated: “We will have a unique combination of capabilities to study planets with high spatial and spectral resolution, which are key to determine if a planet has a rocky composition like our Earth, if it contains liquid water and whether its atmosphere contains the right combination of molecules to indicate the presence of life.”

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