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Another mirror for the Giant Magellan Telescope

GIANT MAGELLAN TELESCOPE ORGANIZATION (GMTO) Casting has begun on the fifth of seven mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope, each 8.4 meters in diameterGIANT MAGELLAN TELESCOPE ORGANIZATION (GMTO)

Construction continues on the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), expected to be the first of a new generation of supermassive optical telescopes to begin operations in the next decade. A laboratory at the University of Arizona, USA, began work on the fifth of the instrument’s seven mirrors, each 8.4 meters (m) in diameter, in early November. The casting process involves melting almost 20 tons of glass in a rotary kiln. After it cools down, a grinder is used to give the mirror its final shape. The seven mirrors will work together as a single 24.5-m unit, and will produce images 10 times more detailed than the Hubble Space Telescope. The GMT will be located at the Las Campanas Observatory in the southern Atacama Desert of Chile, at an altitude of 2,500 m. The US$1-billion project is funded by a consortium of seven US universities and institutions, two Australian astrophysical research centers, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, and FAPESP. Under the US$40-million agreement made between FAPESP and the project, research institutions in the state of São Paulo will have access to 4% of the GMT’s observation time.