Construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope’s final mirror begins


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University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab staff members place approximately 20 tons of O’Hara E6 low expansion glass into a mold to cast the seventh primary mirror segment of the Giant Magellan Telescope in September 2023. Credit: Damien Jameson, Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation

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University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab staff members place approximately 20 tons of O’Hara E6 low expansion glass into a mold to cast the seventh primary mirror segment of the Giant Magellan Telescope in September 2023. Credit: Damien Jameson, Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation

The Giant Magellan Telescope has begun a four-year process to fabricate and polish its seventh and final primary mirror, the last mirror needed to complete the telescope’s 368 square meter light gathering surface, the world’s largest ever. The biggest and most challenging is optics. Together, the mirrors will collect more light than any other telescope in existence, allowing humanity to unlock the mysteries of the universe by providing detailed chemical analysis of celestial bodies and their origins.

Last week, the University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab closed the lid on nearly 20 tons of the purest optical glass inside a unique oven placed beneath the stands of the Arizona Wildcats football stadium. The rotating oven will heat the glass to 1,165°C so that as it melts, it is forced outward to form the curved paraboloid surface of the mirror. Measuring 8.4-metres in diameter – almost two storeys tall when standing on edge – the mirror will cool over the next three months before moving on to the polishing stage.

50 million times more powerful than the human eye, “The telescope will make history through its future discoveries,” says Buell Jannuzzi, principal investigator for the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope primary mirror segments, director and head of the Steward Observatory. Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. “We are thrilled to be approaching another milestone in the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope.”


Credit: GMTO Corporation

The most recently completed primary mirror is ready for integration into a massive support system prototype early next year for final optical performance testing. This test will serve as a dress rehearsal for all seven primary mirrors. Once assembled, all seven mirrors will operate as a monolithic 25.4-meter mirror – a diameter equivalent to the length of a full-grown blue whale – resulting in sensitivity up to 200 times and image resolution four times greater than today’s most advanced . space telescope.

The Large Magellan Telescope will be the first extremely large telescope to complete its primary mirror array. With the completion of robust operational infrastructure at the telescope site in Chile, focused manufacturing of critical subsystems of the telescope is taking place before work begins on the enclosure.

“We are in a significant phase of construction, with the majority of manufacturing taking place in the United States,” says Robert Shelton, president of the Giant Magellan Telescope.

The 39-meter-long telescope structure is being constructed with 2,100 tons of American steel at a newly constructed manufacturing facility in Rockford, Illinois, and the first of the telescope’s seven adaptive secondary mirrors – each with a pair of There is a seven primary mirror work going on.


University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab staff members place pieces of O’Hara E6 low expansion glass into a mold for the casting of the Giant Magellan Telescope’s seventh primary mirror segment in September 2023. Credit: Damien Jameson, Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation

to close


University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab staff members place pieces of O’Hara E6 low expansion glass into a mold for the casting of the Giant Magellan Telescope’s seventh primary mirror segment in September 2023. Credit: Damien Jameson, Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation

“The combination of light-collecting power, efficiency and image resolution will enable us to make new discoveries in all areas of astronomy,” says Rebecca Bernstein, chief scientist of the Giant Magellan Telescope. “We will have a unique combination of capabilities to study planets at high spatial and spectral resolution, which are critical for determining whether a planet has a rocky composition like our Earth, whether it has liquid water, and “Whether water in its atmosphere has the right combination of molecules to indicate the presence of life.”

The telescope is expected to see first light by the end of the decade, and will work to answer some of humanity’s most important questions: Where did we come from? Are we alone in the universe?

Provided by GMTO Corporation


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