$205 million investment accelerates Giant Magellan Telescope project

Giant Magellan Telescope-GMTO Corporation

Texas A&M University and its partners in the Giant Magellan Telescope have secured a $205 million investment from its international consortium to accelerate construction of the most powerful telescope ever engineered featuring the world’s largest mirrors.

This investment marks one of the largest funding rounds for the telescope since its founding and includes leading commitments from the Carnegie Institution for Science, Harvard University, the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), The University of Texas at Austin, the University of Arizona and the University of Chicago. The investment will be used to manufacture the giant 12-story telescope structure at Ingersoll Machine Tools in Illinois, continue progress on the telescope’s seven primary mirrors at the University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, and build one of the most advanced scientific spectrograph instruments in Texas.

The funding comes after the National Academy of Sciences Astro2020 Decadal Survey, co-chaired by Texas A&M astronomer Dr. Robert C. Kennicutt Jr., evaluated the Giant Magellan Telescope as a core partner of the United States Extremely Large Telescope Program. Astro2020 ranked the program a top priority and “absolutely essential if the United States is to maintain a position as a leader in ground-based astronomy.”

“This new investment is a major step forward for the entire project,” said Kennicutt, a distinguished professor in the Texas A&M Department of Physics and Astronomy and executive director of the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy. “It brings us closer to realizing the recommendation for federal investment in the US-ELT project — of which the Giant Magellan Telescope is a part — as the top ground-based priority of the Astro2020 Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics.”

The Giant Magellan Telescope is under construction at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile and will allow astronomers to see farther into space with more detail than any other optical telescope before. It will have 10 times the light-collecting area and four times the spatial resolution of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and will be up to 200 times more powerful than existing research telescopes.

More at the College of Science, which joins the new College of Arts & Sciences on September 1, 2022