Australia Gets $72 Million for the GMT
PASADENIA, Calif. —
The Australian government has announced that it will provide $88.4 million AUD ($72.4 million USD) to help fund the revolutionary 25-meter Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) to be sited at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile’s high-altitude Atacama Desert.
Officials with the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) Corporation, which includes Texas A&M University, say this brings the amount of funding raised to date to $200 million out of approximately $700 million total needed to complete construction, scheduled for 2019.
The GMT will be built and operated by a consortium of institutions from the United States, South Korea and Australia. Larger and more powerful than any previous optical telescope, it will be up to 100 times more sensitive than current ground-based telescopes, and will produce images 10 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope.
“We are delighted at the success of our Australian colleagues,” said Wendy Freedman, GMTO Corporation Board Chairperson and Carnegie Observatories director. “This funding will give Australian astronomers access to about 10 percent of the time on the GMT and assure that they remain at the forefront of astronomical research. It provides another strong boost of forward momentum for the project — one of many it has received of late.”
Harvey Butcher, director of the Australian National University Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics and Mount Stromlo Observatory said, “Involvement in the GMT will strongly advance Australia’s contributions to science and innovation and provide a focus for attracting the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
“Australia’s action strengthens the GMTO and will help us build the telescope we dream of in Chile,” said Patrick McCarthy, director of the GMTO. “To achieve this dream takes money, talent and grit. The Australians are bringing all three.”
The GMT will combine seven 8.4-meter primary mirror segments resulting in an equivalent 24.5-meter telescope. It will be used to explore currently unanswered questions about the nature of dark matter and dark energy, the origin of the first stars and first galaxies, and the mysteries of star formation, galaxy evolution, and black hole growth. The GMT will also play a key role in the detection and imaging of planets around nearby stars.
In the United States the participating institutions are the Carnegie Institution for Science, Harvard University, the Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Texas at Austin. The two Australian members of the Founders group are the Australian National University and Astronomy Australia Limited. Earlier this year, the South Korean government approved participation in the GMT project, with the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute as the representative of the Korean astronomical community.
The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) is a nonprofit organization founded to design, build and operate the Giant Magellan Telescope on behalf of an international partnership that includes Astronomy Australia Ltd., Australian National University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Harvard University, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, the Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, the University of Arizona, and The University of Texas at Austin. The GMTO is headquartered in Pasadena, California, USA, and the Giant Magellan Telescope will be located at Las Campanas, Chile.
Contact: Wendy Freedman (626) 304-0204 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Nicholas B. Suntzeff, (979) 458-1786 or email@example.com
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