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Leading scientists, senior officials and supporters from an international consortium of universities and research institutions, including Texas A&M University, broke ground today for the Giant Magellan Telescope on a remote mountaintop high in the Chilean Andes.
The ceremony marks the beginning of onsite construction of the telescope and its support base, according to Giant Magellan Telescope Organization officials. The Giant Magellan Telescope, also known as the GMT, is poised to become the world’s largest telescope when it begins early operations in 2021. It will produce images 10 times sharper than those delivered by the Hubble Space Telescope and will address key questions in cosmology, astrophysics and the study of planets outside our solar system.
The GMT will be located at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Known for its clear, dark skies and outstanding astronomical image clarity, Las Campanas is one of the world’s premier locations for astronomy. Construction crews will soon be busy on the site building the roads, power, data and other infrastructure needed to support the observatory.
“A project like the GMT takes a long time from the initial concepts to final use as a scientific instrument,” said Texas A&M astronomer Darren L. DePoy, deputy director of the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomyand director of Texas A&M’s Munnerlyn Astronomical Instrumentation Laboratory, where first-light devices and measurement systems for the telescope are being built and assembled. “Milestones like this one are terrific opportunities to pause and reflect on the great progress of the telescope, the many problems that have been solved and the exciting science ahead. Although there is still a lot to do, the GMT is moving ahead and is in an excellent position to be the first of the next generation of enormous telescopes. We look forward to the completion of the telescope and to the wonderful science we will tell the world about in the next decade.”
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