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The universe awaits

The Year in Photos 2022

Blog Construction
December 12, 2022

The year 2022 opened with progress for the Giant Magellan Telescope. Construction continued in Chile at Las Campanas Observatory, and key technologies were prototyped and tested. The year concluded with the completion of the third primary mirror segment.

This is our story of 2022 told visually.


Credit: Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science

Production of the telescope’s first adaptive secondary mirror began. This “blank” of highly specialized glass called Zerodur is shaved down to a mere 2mm in thickness so that it can reshape up to 2,000 times per second. This is the first of seven adaptive secondary mirrors that will hang above the giant primary mirrors’ light path, collecting and correcting distorted light before sending a concentrated beam to the telescope’s scientific instruments.


Credit: Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation

Renowned engineering and architecture firm IDOM was awarded a contract to finalize the telescope enclosure design by 2024. The award followed extensive enclosure designer evaluation and a selection process based on a detailed set of criteria.


Credit: Oscar Contreras, Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation

In partnership with the audiovisual design studio, Delight Lab, we celebrated Chile’s annual astronomy week with an art and science initiative aimed to bring astronomy and science to public spaces. With the support of the Cultural Corporation of the Municipality of Vitacura, nearly 100 viewers were captivated by a video mapping projected against the front of a seven-story building at Santiago’s Parque Bicentenario.


Credit: Ryan Kallabis, Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation

Giant Magellan President Robert N. Shelton met with Flavio Salazar, Chile’s former Minister of Science, Technology, Knowledge, and Innovation, in Santiago, Chile, to discuss the telescope and Chile’s premier astronomical infrastructure.


Credit: Damien Jemison, Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation

Seven “cells” will hold the telescope’s giant 18-ton primary mirrors. Each cell is compact and lightweight, allowing for the telescope to be extremely stiff and stable in resisting image quality interruptions. A full-scale prototype cell has been built to demonstrate the performance. Device Control Software Engineer Tomas Krasuski is shown adjusting one of support actuators on the prototype cell.


Credit: Damien Jemison, Giant Magellan Telescope — GMTO Corporation

Following two years of virtual gathering, the Giant Magellan Telescope participated in both Astrofest 2022 and the 240th meeting of the American Astronomical Society as part of US Extremely Large Telescope Program. The meeting included a wide range of workshops, splinter sessions, town halls, and exhibition offerings. In 2023, we will be at the 241st meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington, join us!


Credit: Francisco Figueroa, Giant Magellan Telescope — GMTO Corporation

Las Campanas Observatory was swept by a rare winter storm, with 40 inches of snowfall — more than we’ve seen in over 20 years. The site operations team exercised a recovery plan to clear the road and maintain construction at the Giant Magellan Telescope site.


Credit: Giant Magellan Telescope — GMTO Corporation

The Giant Magellan Telescope secured a $205 million investment from its international consortium to accelerate construction. The investment is being used to manufacture the 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 a scientific spectrograph instrument in Texas.


Credit: Proven Productions

The telescope mount provides the supporting framework for the world’s largest mirrors, adaptive optics, scientific instruments, and control systems. A 22-meter diameter faux pier was constructed at Ingersoll Machine Tools newly expanded manufacturing, assembly, and testing center in Rockford, Illinois, to house the steel superstructure during fabrication.


Credit: Damien Jemison, Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation

October marked two years of progress on prototyping and testing since receiving a $17.5 million subaward grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation. We are validating key aspects of telescope phasing and adaptive optics in the construction of two laboratory bench testbeds. The adaptive optics will counteract distortions caused by turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere and funnel the corrected light to the telescope’s scientific instruments.


Credit: Nikon Corporation

The telescope’s Large Earth Finder visible light Echelle spectrograph, being developed by the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, will one day measure the masses of Earth-like planets outside of our solar system and search for signs of life. Following many prototypes, the red camera lens bezel and its lens were completed for the science instrument.


Credit: Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation

Primary mirror segment three of seven was completed following two years of polishing. The final optical surface precision is more than 25 nanometers — so smooth that the highest peaks and valleys are smaller than one thousandth of the width of a human hair. In 2023, the mirror will be placed in a test cell prototype to validate the mirror support hardware design.

The Universe Awaits™ for 2023!

To see more from the Giant Magellan Telescope, check out The Year in Photos 2021 and The Year in Photos 2020.

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