Enormous 12-story Magellan telescope that will be the most powerful ever gets $205M funding boost

A gigantic new telescope, which will be more powerful than any that currently exist, just got a big boost of funding – $205 million – that will turbocharge its construction so that it can help to unlock cosmic secrets.

The 12-story Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is under construction and will allow scientists to see farther into space and with more detail than ever before because it will have ten times the light collecting area and four times the spatial resolution of the James Webb Space Telescope.

‘We are working with some of the brightest engineers and scientists at leading research institutions around the globe,’ said Dr. Walter Massey, Board Chair of Giant Magellan Telescope and former Director of the National Science Foundation, in a statement.

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The 12-story Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) – pictured above – is under construction and will allow scientists to see farther into space and with more detail than ever before

The construction process for the powerful telescope has been underway for several years. Pictured above, a graphic showing some of the key differences between the Giant Magellan Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope

‘The recent contributions from our investing partners in the Giant Magellan Telescope are collectively pushing the boundaries of astronomy, making the future a reality, and allowing us to answer some key science goals, including ‘Are we alone in the Universe.”’

The construction process for the powerful telescope has been underway for several years thanks to an international consortium known as the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization that includes commitments from multiple US institutions and several in South Korea, Australia, Brazil, France, Italy and Chile.

‘The GMT will revolutionize our understanding of the cosmos through innovative new technology combined with a world class site in Chile,’ said Lisa Kewley, director of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard & Smithsonian, one of the founding institutions behind the telescope’s construction. ‘The telescope will answer some of humankind’s biggest questions about the first stars, the first galaxies, the secrets of dark matter and dark energy, and extrasolar planets suitable for life.’

The enormous telescope will have several technical advantages over existing ones and is set to see its first light in 2029. The GMT’s seven mirror segments, which are being cast in Tucson, Arizona, will have a total diameter of 82 feet.

The enormous new telescope will have several technical advantages over existing ones and is set to see its first light in 2029. Pictured above is an image from the James Webb Space Telescope (left) and the same image as it would likely be seen from the GMT (right)

The enormous new telescope will have several technical advantages over existing ones and is set to see its first light in 2029. Pictured above is an image from the James Webb Space Telescope (left) and the same image as it would likely be seen from the GMT (right)

Lisa Kewley, director of the Center for Astrophysics |  Harvard & Smithsonian, said: 'The telescope will answer some of humankind's biggest questions about the first stars, the first galaxies, the secrets of dark matter and dark energy, and extrasolar planets suitable for life.'

Lisa Kewley, director of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, said: ‘The telescope will answer some of humankind’s biggest questions about the first stars, the first galaxies, the secrets of dark matter and dark energy, and extrasolar planets suitable for life.’

The funds will be used to manufacture the 12-story telescope structure at Ingersoll Machine Tools in Illinois and continue progress on the telescope's seven primary mirrors at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab in Arizona.  Pictured above is a huge segment of the Giant Magellan Telescope, which is still under construction

The funds will be used to manufacture the 12-story telescope structure at Ingersoll Machine Tools in Illinois and continue progress on the telescope’s seven primary mirrors at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab in Arizona. Pictured above is a huge segment of the Giant Magellan Telescope, which is still under construction

‘Six like-minded founders of the Giant Magellan Telescope worked together to close the financial gap between the resources we have attracted to build the telescope and what is required to complete it,’ said Eric Isaacs, president of Carnegie Institution for Science.

FACTS ABOUT THE GIANT MAGELLAN TELESCOPE

The huge new telescope is under construction now and will be seeing its first light in 2029

It will be located at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile

The GMT’s mirrors will be 82 feet in diameter, which is almost four times larger than James Webb’s

The total collecting area of ​​the meters will be 3,961 square feet

The telescope will see wavelengths ranging from the visible to the mid-infrared

GMT is being funded and constructed by a consortium made up of groups from the US, Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, Italy and South Korea

‘This investment will bring the telescope closer to first light and provide the world with transformational knowledge of our universe. Carnegie is proud to have kickstarted the funding effort and to have worked closely with our peers.’

The funds will be used to manufacture the 12-story telescope structure at Ingersoll Machine Tools in Illinois, continue progress on the telescope’s seven primary mirrors at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab in Arizona, and build one of the most advanced scientific instruments, led by UT Austin, called the GMT Near Infrared Spectrograph (GMTNIRS).

‘We are honored to receive this investment in our future,’ said GMT President Robert Shelton in a statement. ‘The funding is truly a collaborative effort from our founders. It will result in the fabrication of the world’s largest mirrors, the giant telescope mount that holds and aligns them, and a science instrument that will allow us to study the chemical evolution of stars and planets like never before.’

Construction of a 40,000-square-foot facility in Rockford, Illinois, to manufacture the telescope structure is already complete.

The production of the telescope’s first adaptive secondary mirror is underway in France and Italy. The site in Chile, which sits 8,255 feet above sea level, is being primed for the next stage of construction and for pouring of the foundation.

GMT President Robert Shelton in a statement: 'The funding is truly a collaborative effort from our founders.  It will result in the fabrication of the world's largest mirrors, the giant telescope mount that holds and aligns them, and a science instrument that will allow us to study the chemical evolution of stars and planets like never before.'  Pictured above is an artist's rendering of the completed Giant Magellan Telescope

GMT President Robert Shelton in a statement: ‘The funding is truly a collaborative effort from our founders. It will result in the fabrication of the world’s largest mirrors, the giant telescope mount that holds and aligns them, and a science instrument that will allow us to study the chemical evolution of stars and planets like never before.’ Pictured above is an artist’s rendering of the completed Giant Magellan Telescope

The 12-story Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is under construction and will allow scientists to see farther into space and with more detail than ever before because it will have ten times the light collecting area and four times the spatial resolution of the James Webb Space Telescope

The 12-story Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is under construction and will allow scientists to see farther into space and with more detail than ever before because it will have ten times the light collecting area and four times the spatial resolution of the James Webb Space Telescope

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