World’s most powerful telescope ready for construction

Construction is now ready to start on the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile, which will be one of the world’s largest astronomical facilities when completed.

Giant Magellan Telescope Construction is now ready on the Giant Magellan Telescope Photo: GMTO Corporation and IDOM

Architecture and Engineering firm, IDOM recently completed the final design review for the project. When completed, the 65-meter-tall enclosure will be one of the largest mechanised buildings ever constructed.

At over 5,000 metric tons, the enclosure will be able to complete a full rotation in four minutes. It will be equipped with 46-meter-tall shutter doors that reveal the 25.4-meter telescope for unobstructed scientific observations.

The smart building is designed to control the telescope’s operating environment by protecting seven of the world’s largest mirrors as they track celestial objects across the sky more than a billion light years away.

IDOM began developing the Giant Magellan Telescope enclosure design over two years ago following a global search and extensive evaluation process.

“Our team approached the challenge of the Giant Magellan Telescope enclosure knowing that this structure would be responsible for enabling some of the most important scientific discoveries of our lifetimes,” said IDOM North American President, Tom Lorentz.

Construction of Giant Magellan Telescope
Giant Magellan Telescope The telescope is located in the desert in Chile. Photo: GMTO Corporation and IDOM.

Construction of the telescope components housed within the enclosure are advancing rapidly. For example, over the past year, fabrication commenced on the seventh and final primary mirror in Arizona, while manufacturing of the 39-meter-tall mount structure began in Illinois.

Other advancements include near completion of the telescope’s first adaptive secondary mirror and significant progress on a suite of high-resolution imagers and spectrographs.

These optical technologies will enable the Giant Magellan to boast a remarkable tenfold increase in resolution compared to the Hubble Space Telescope and deliver up to 200 times the power of today’s best telescopes.

Giant Magellan Telescope When completed it will be the world’s most powerful telescope Photo: Giant Magellan Telescope

Giant Magellan is the work of the GMTO Corporation, an international consortium of 14 universities and research institutions representing the US, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Israel, South Korea, and Taiwan. The telescope is being built in America and will be reassembled and completed in Chile by the early 2030s.

With the enclosure design milestone complete, the Giant Magellan Telescope is now preparing a global search for a firm to construct the enclosure.

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