Six-month long casting of 5th mirror for world's largest telescope begins at UA labs

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UA labs begins casting 5th mirror of world's largest telescope
UA labs begins casting 5th mirror of world's largest telescope

New Delhi : Casting of fifth mirror out of seven for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) has been started by the Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory in the University of Arizona campus.

A massive rotating oven was filled with nothing less than 20 tons of Japanese-produced glass to cast the fifth lens of GMT, which is believed to be 10 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope.

The GMT will be comprised of total seven lenses.

"After the casting is completed, which takes more than six months from starting the mold through the cooling of the glass, you then have to take several years to polish the final surface," said Buell Jannuzi, director of the Steward Observatory.

Since creating a mirror is quite an extensive work, nearly 35 dedicated employees are working round the clock to monitor the numerous mirror segments, performing measurement tests.

The GMT will be based at Chile, sitting at an elevation of 8,000 feet. 

"We don't know exactly what the next generation of astronomers will discover with GMT but we know it will be fantastic," said Dr. Pat McCarthy, GMT astronomer.

Becoming the world's largest optical telescope, the GMT will have the capability of witnessing the solar system in its infancy.

It is expected that GMT will come into partial operation by 2023, and full operation of the Giant Magellan Telescope is anticipated for 2025.