This 2021, the Giant Magellan Telescope will be among the few gigantic earth-based telescopes that have the potential for revolutionizing humans' view and insight of the universe.

According to Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution, both members of this Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) project, the giant tool "will be constructed at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile."

The telescope's commissioning is slated to start this year.

Specifically, the giant Magellan telescope, as seen on GMT's YouTube video below, is a segmented mirror telescope employing seven of today's hugest monolithic mirrors as sections.

Six off-axis 8.4-meter segments surround a central on-axis section, developing a single optical surface with a diameter of 24.5 meters with a 368-square-meter total collecting area.

Joining Harvard and Smithsonian in this project are the Astronomy Australia Ltd., the Australian National University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, the São Paulo Research Foundation, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Chicago.

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Giant Telescope's Mirrors

This giant telescope's primary mirrors are developed at the Tucson, Arizona-based Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. They are said to be a phenomenon of "modern engineering and glassmaking."

Each segment of the telescope is curved to a very exact shape and polished within a wavelength of light, to roughly one-millionth of an inch.

Light from the universe's edge will initially reflect off all seven primary mirrors, then reflect again off of the seven smaller secondary mirrors to move down through the middle main mirror hole to develop a single focus on one of several advanced tools that will evaluate the light.

As described in the project, one of the most sophisticated engineering characteristics of the telescope is that it's now identified as "adaptive optics."

Meanwhile, the secondary mirrors of the telescope are designed flexible. Under every surface of the secondary mirror, there are hundreds of actuators functioning to regulate the mirrors to counter atmospheric turbulence constantly.

Science Times – The Giant Magellan Telescope to Revolutionize Humans’ Outlook and Insight of the Universe
(Photo : Giant Magellan Telescope on Wikimedia Commons)
Artist's concept of the completed Giant Magellan Telescope which will be situated in the Atacama Desert some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile.

How the Actuators Function

The said actuators, under the advanced control systems' command, are intended to turn twinkling stars into clear, steady points of lights about 10 times sharper compared "than possible with the Hubble Space Telescope."

The Center for Astrophysics engineers and scientists are now playing a vital role in both the design and construction of such control systems.

Furthermore, the GMT's location also offers a key benefit when it comes to seeing through the atmosphere of the Earth.

The Atacama Desert of Chile one of the highest and driest sites on earth, where the giant Magellan telescope will have remarkable conditions for over 300 nights each year.

Las Campanas Peak has a more than 8,500-feet altitude and is nearly totally barren of vegetation because of lack of rainfall.

Essentially, the said report specified, "the combination of observing a number of clear nights, altitude, weather and vegetation" make the Las Campanas the best site for the GMT.

Probably, one of the most interesting questions which astronomy has yet to answer is: "Are we alone?" The said question will be answered by the pioneering advanced apparatus planned for GMT, the G-CLEF, or the GMT-Consortium Large Earth Finder, in which its construction and design are being overseen at the Center for Astrophysics.

G-CLEF has been enhanced to have "extreme precision velocity capability," which will enable it to trace the existence of an Earth-mass exoplanet that orbits Sun-like stars.

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