Construction starts on world's largest optical telescope, University of Arizona connected to project

Construction starts on world's largest optical telescope, University of Arizona connected to project
When built, the GMT will be the largest optical telescope in existence. At the heart of the giant observatory are seven off-axis mirrors, each spanning 27 feet, produced in the UA's Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab. (Artists' concept: GMTO)

Construction is a 'go' for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). This telescope is part of a $1 billion project and, when complete, will be the world's largest optical telescope. The University of Arizona is one of the 11 international partners committed to building and managing this telescope, which is located in the Atacama Desert of Chile.

Each of the seven mirrors going into the telescope were produced in the mirror lab at the University of Arizona. According to UA News, each mirror "weighs 17 tons and takes one year to cast and cool, followed by more than three years of surface generation and meticulous polishing."

The dome will be 22 stories high with data collection schedule to begin in 2021 and full operation by 2024. GMT will allow astronomers to look deeper into space than ever before. The goal is to discover Earth-like planets and black holes that reside in distant space.

For the complete UA News story click here.