Next Generation Super-sized Earth-based Telescopes

The Giant Magellan Telescope

A side view of the Giant Magellan Telescope. Credit: GMTO Corporation
A side view of the Giant Magellan Telescope.
Credit: GMTO Corporation

Space news (March 31, 2016) – high up on an Andes Mountain peak in Las Campanas, Chile – 

High up on the dry, barren Cerro Las Campanas in the Atacama Desert in Chile construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) began on November 11, 2015. The latest of many state-of-the-art telescopes housed in the Las Campanas Observatory, the GMT implements primary mirrors that are a marvel of modern engineering and glassmaking. Part of a new breed of super-giant-sized ground-based telescopes, it’s designed to open windows peering into unknown regions of the cosmos.  

Sunset over the GMT, work begins. Credit: GMTO Corporation
Sunset over the GMT, work begins.
Credit: GMTO Corporation

Six 27-foot (8.4 meters) mirror segments surround a central mirror, forming an optical surface 80-feet in diameter with a total light-collecting area of 3961 sq ft (386 square meters). Light from the edge of the cosmos will reflect off of the primary mirrors, strike seven smaller, flexible secondary mirrors, and then hit the center mirror before heading to advanced CCD imaging devices. The concentrated light is then measured to determine distance and composition of the material at the edge of the universe. 

The first GMT primary mirror segment on the polishing machine at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. Credit: GMTO Corporation
The first GMT primary mirror segment on the polishing machine at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab.
Credit: GMTO Corporation

Utilizing a flexible secondary mirror with a surface capable of adjusting to counteract atmospheric turbulence, the GMT will have a resolving power ten times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope. Gathering more light than any telescope ever designed or engineered, controlled by advanced, state-of-the-art computers, it will transform twinkling lights into clear, steady points of light. Known as “adaptive optics” the actuators under the surface of the secondary mirrors constantly adjust, allowing the GMT to see through the Earth’s atmosphere. 

The light gathering ability and resolution of the GMT can image light reflected off of exoplanets orbiting stars light-years away, despite the glare of the host star. One day, light reflected off a rocky planet, much like Earth, will fall upon the mirror assembly of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). Analysis of the light will show a blue planet, with oxygen in the atmosphere and soil, much like Earth. A planet capable of acting as a cradle for a new human Genesis, if we can travel to it? 

Perched on a dry Andes mountain at 8,500 ft (2,550 meters), the air above the telescope’s clear and clean, and the night sky dark. From here, the GMT will give us insight into the makeup of stellar matter that formed the first galaxies to appear after the Big Bang. The mystery of dark matter and dark energy and the ultimate fate of our universe. The destinations and secrets of the cosmos it reveals will alter our view of reality and understanding of the bigger universe. The Giant Magellan Telescope’s our next great spaceship-to-the-stars.

Boarding passes available sometime in 2021! 

Watch this YouTube video on the GMT.

Read about the weird light signal being emitted by two orbiting black holes destined to merge.

Read about clues found by astronomers concerning the formation and evolution of the Milky Way.

Learn more about astronomers confirmation of data proving an ocean of liquid water exists beneath the ice.

Learn more about the Giant Magellan Telescope here.

Discover the secrets of the Las Campanas Observatory.

Take the journey of NASA here.

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Earth Mission Discovers Something Unusual

Space news (August 05, 3897)

Archaeoastronomers of the Earth Mission today discovered something unusual under the dry sand of Chile’s Atacama desert. Buried ten to fifteen feet under the hot, dry sand of the Chajnantor plateau of the Chilean Andes at an altitude of 5,000 meters they discovered a human relic from an early age. What appears to be a human made instrument scientists date to about 2014 AD.

Space scientists unearthed a 12-meter concave metal dish, broken off at the base. The origins and design of the artifact are a mystery to space scientists and historians at this point. Records from this period of human history are sketchy at best, so historians are at odds as to the original use of such a weird looking artifact.

Chile’s Atacama desert is a very isolated and unforgiving environment today and we expect it wasn’t much more inviting in the twenty-first century AD. Documents from the time indicate this region was home to a large facility of some type, possible scientific in nature, but it isn’t clear just what they were studying.

Archaeoastronomers indicate ancient records point to humans of this period being intensely interested in the solar system and the study of the stars in the night sky. Even today space scientists indicate the high plateaus of Chile’s Atacama desert are the perfect spot to observe the sky. This leads archaeoastronomers to believe the site was possible the home of an ancient observatory of some kind.

“The true origins, design, and uses of this artifact are at this point a puzzle, but we believe the 12-meter dish was part of a scientific instrument of some type. Humans of the 21st century spent a lot of time and resources studying the solar system and stars. We think this artifact was part of a much larger instrument and facility,” said lead archaeoastronomer of the Earth Mission, William Hurte.

Archaeoastronomers will now try to piece together the puzzle of this strange looking artifact, using the facts they have to go on, and continued the study of the site and surrounding region. The site is difficult to reach and the environment unforgiving and harsher than any we face here on Sintera. Space scientists face dangers from both the natural environment and strange lifeforms the Institute for Scientific Study is planning on sending a team to study at some point.

The questions at this point keep piling up for archaeoastronomers of the Earth Mission, but they have decades to piece together the puzzle.

What do you think?

Tell us what you think? Is this artifact an ancient weapon of some kind? A scientific instrument? Maybe an astronomical device?

Drop us a line here and we’ll post your comments.

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Read about “The Search for Extraterrestrial Moons