First Mirror Cast for Giant Magellan Telescope
COLLEGE STATION —
The casting of the first mirror of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) in Arizona has been completed and is a big step in the process of creating the largest telescope ever built, says Ed Fry, head of the Department of Physics at Texas A&M University.
Texas A&M is one of eight institutions involved in the 10-year project to build the GMT, which will be constructed in Chile and is expected to be fully operational by 2016. Much of the GMT is being assembled at the University at Arizona, which along with Texas A&M, the University of Texas, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Carnegie Observatories, is managing the project.
The casting of the first mirror is a key, Fry says, because “it’s important that it is polished in just the right way. The GMT will have seven mirrors, six of them off axis, so everything has to be cast and polished perfectly.”
Fry attended the casting of the mirror at Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab, along with Joseph Newton, dean of the College of Science; George Kattawar, professor of physics; and George Mitchell, a prominent Texas A&M graduate who has funded numerous science and physics projects at the university and who recently announced a $35 million gift.
The first mirror cast is enormous — about 25 feet in diameter, Fry says. Once all of the seven mirrors are in place, the GMT will be the most powerful telescope ever constructed, having 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.
“We’re all on a new learning curve here because something of this magnitude has never been built before,” Fry adds.
“The mirror will be tested later. There’s still a lot of work to do, but this project is truly one of a kind. Nothing like this has been constructed before.”
For more information about the GMT, go to http://www.gmto.org.
Contact: Ed Fry, (979) 845-1910 or email@example.com or Keith Randall, (979) 845-4644 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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