Big Star Project Launched

Brazil is taking its place as member of the 11-member international consortium building the Giant Magellan Telescope, which will be the world’s largest. Start-up funding of US$500 million has been agreed, but the final cost could be nearer US$ 1.05 billion.

In early June the consortium announced it was making the formal go-ahead and would begin construction at a mountaintop site in Las Campanas in northern Chile, where the atmosphere is the world’s clearest. Brazil’s primary participation is through a US$40 million investment by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

You can read a longer article about Brazil’s aspirations in the world of big-ticket astronomy by clicking here.

Artist's view of completed GMT  in action after 2021

Artist’s view of completed GMT in action after 2021

The consortium is run by Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO). It has institutional partners in Australia, Brazil, Korea, the United States, and in host nation Chile. GMTO President Edward Moses said, “The GMT is a global scientific collaboration, with institutional partners in Australia, Brazil, Korea, the United States, and in host nation Chile. The construction approval means work will begin on the telescope’s core structure and the scientific instruments that lie at the heart of this US$1 billion project. You can find further details here.

Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, Scientific Director of FAPESP, said of Brazil’s aspiration in joining the project: “We don’t simply want to be at the forefront of scientific research, creating new opportunities for our scientific institutions and our education systems in the state of São Paulo. We also want to create opportunities for technology companies in our state.” FAPESP joined the consortium in 2014 and the investment is one of it largest to date.

The Giant Magellan Telescope’s seven mirrors span 25 meters and will focus more than six times the amount of light of the current largest optical telescopes into images up to 10 times sharper than those of the Hubble Space Telescope. The GMT will enable astronomers to look deeper into space and further back in time than ever before. The telescope is expected to see first light in 2021 and be fully operational by 2024.

The GMT, whose images will be many times sharper than those of the Hubble telescope, will herald the beginning of a new era in astronomy. It will reveal the first objects to emit light in the universe, explore the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter, and identify potentially habitable planets. The Giant Magellan Telescope will provide astronomers and astrophysicists with the opportunity to truly transform our view of the universe.

 

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