Giant Magellan Telescope in the Desert


Ancient Japanese glass making techniques are being used to prepare for the building of the largest telescope ever constructed. It is planned to be set up in the Atacama Desert of Chile. The building planned to house this optical telescope is set to be 22 stories tall. The glass used is the Ohara E6 glass. This glass has the most pure optical attributes of any other glass from around the globe. The main desirable characteristic for this particular project is the ability to refrain from expanding with extreme heat.

The telescope mirrors are the first part to be under construction in Tucson, Arizona. The originally one ton chunks of glass are broken into smaller pieces and shipped to the manufacturing site in Arizona. Each mirror is projected to weigh about 17 tons and be 27 feet (8.4 meters) in diameter. The final mirror is a combination of seven of these, adding up to a mirror that is 80 feet (24.5 meters) from one end to the other.

This new telescope is expected to have resolving power that is 10 times that of the Hubble Space Telescope. The geographical location was chosen due to the dry air and clear night skies in the area. Complications with the readings on large telescopes can come from the laser interferometer. To accomplish this, a strong foundation of concrete is being added. Three meters of concrete are necessary to secure the accuracy of the telescope. Otherwise, miniscule vibrations could upset the readings.

Objects such as small coins are going to be visible from up to 60 miles away once the telescope is functioning at full force. The estimated time frame for completion is sometime in 2020. The telescope is planned to be used for locating exoplanets and discovering unique molecules in their atmospheres.