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Magellan Telescope First Mega-Mirror Polished and Ready

timothy posted about a year ago | from the don't-send-it-usps-media-mail dept.

Space 39

coondoggie writes "One of the six giant — 27 feet across, 20 ton — circular mirrors that will be part of the 4,000 sq. ft., Giant Magellan Telescope that ultimately look for stars, galaxies and black holes has been polished and completed — now for the other five. The mirrors will form the heart of the 25-meter Giant Magellan Telescope, and when complete will provide more than 380 square meters, or 4,000 square feet, of light-collecting area." This is a big project, not just a big mirror. From the article: "At the Carnegie Institution for Science's Las Campanas Observatory in northern Chile, earthmovers are completing the removal of 4 million cubic feet of rock to produce a flat platform for the telescope and its supporting buildings. The telescope is scheduled to come online in about 10 years.

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39 comments

We could use this mirror to burn terrorists (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year ago | (#41764939)

America needs more war! America needs more colonies! American banks need more money! Hate hate hate! USA USA USA! Vote for Obama or Romney! Vote for imperialist slaughter! USA USA USA! Hate hate hate! War war war! Hooray!

Also, I forgot to add: (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year ago | (#41765029)

Democracy! Freedom! The Market! God! Hate! USA! War! Robama! Television! Hooray! Nation! God! Democracy! Hooray!

Re:We could use this mirror to burn terrorists (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41765493)

What do you smoke in the mornings? I know you must be getting a lot of fumes from burning karma, but is that enough to get high, or do you have to mix something with it? Does karma have to be freebased first before you smoke it?

smudgy fingers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41764941)

No way they keep that thing clean and polished for 10 years... some jerk is gonna walk over there and wipe his finger on it. guaranteed

Re:smudgy fingers (3, Informative)

k28 (2593665) | about a year ago | (#41765709)

I'm sure one of the first things that you think of when using big pieces of glass is the fact that they'll get dirty. A little bit of googling tells us that the mirrors will be regularly CO2 -cleaned, (basically blasting all dirt off the surface of the mirror) - see section 10.11: http://www.gmto.org/science-conceptu.html [gmto.org] . Each mirror will also get recoated every 2 years, to prevent scratches and blemishes.

Re:smudgy fingers (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#41765729)

No way they keep that thing clean and polished for 10 years... some jerk is gonna walk over there and wipe his finger on it. guaranteed

No problem if a jerk does, there's an easy way to clean it - First Contact [photoniccleaning.com]

Spray on, dry, peel off.

Used by NASA and JPL.

Re:smudgy fingers (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | about a year ago | (#41767341)

The photo that the mirror lab emailed to me with this announcement showed them applying a blue sticky protective coating to the mirror. So don't worry; it's well protected. Furthermore, they don't even put the aluminum on it until it's at the telescope.

Re:smudgy fingers (1)

smi.james.th (1706780) | about a year and a half ago | (#41786535)

Big telescopes like this are usually kept away from where people an get to, I've seen a few large optical telescopes. This sounds bigger than any of them though.

10 years!?! (0)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | about a year ago | (#41765067)

in 5 years it will be obsolete, there will be yet another telescope launched into space that can see far greater distances before this is even built.

I'm wonder why anyone would even bother putting a telescope on the planet at this point, put it on the moon , no atmosphere to obstruct your view.

Re:10 years!?! (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#41765109)

I'm wonder why anyone would even bother putting a telescope on the planet at this point

It's cheaper.

Re:10 years!?! (3, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about a year ago | (#41765757)

Yeah, no kidding. The GMT has a total budget of $700M, JWST's annual budget is almost that much.

Re:10 years!?! (4, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#41765853)

I'm wonder why anyone would even bother putting a telescope on the planet at this point

It's cheaper.

Further, with corrective optics they get amazing results. I'm a member of the Santa Cruz Astronomy Club and we have been lucky enough to have some great speakers come in from US Santa Cruz (who manage some large earthbound telescopes, including Keck on Mauna Kea, Hawaii) Directing a laser into the atmosphere allows them to correct a high percentage of anomalies, obtaining some much improved results over non-adaptive optics. This technology has given new life to old optical scopes, further cost far less than adding yet another spaceborne scope, which may lauch correctly, may deploy correctly and may work for a sufficient amount of time to justify the costs of everything, including the team using it. UCSC also does some amazing work with mirrors, polishing to molecular uniformity and applying coatings a molecule in thickness. Amazing stuff.

Re:10 years!?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41765303)

It won't really be obsolete if it doesn't have any competition... This thing's gonna be MASSIVE.
ure, the James Webb telescope may be running by then (far from certain, though) but that will only observe in the infrared. And besides, do you know how much competition there will be for the exposure time? It's hard enough to get time on a good telescope as it is.

Re:10 years!?! (1)

theJML (911853) | about a year ago | (#41765579)

Might have a little competition from this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirty_Meter_Telescope [wikipedia.org]

25m is a bit less than 30m. Just saying.

So its redundant (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41765731)

Yes, because there is so much telescope time available, and so few astronomers to use it.

Oh, wait...

Re:10 years!?! (1)

k28 (2593665) | about a year ago | (#41765819)

The GMT has 7 mirrors, each 8m wide. The 30m Telescope has one 30m mirror, plus a 3m secondary mirror. I'm not sure which would be optically better, but I'd guess that the GMT will have more uptime as you can remove a mirror for cleaning without taking down the entire telescope.

Re:10 years!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41767205)

From the parent's link...

This mirror will be segmented and consist of 492 smaller (1.4 m), individual hexagonal mirrors. The shape of each segment, as well as its position relative to neighboring segments, will be controlled actively.

This means that individual segments can be polished with little reduction of light gathering capabilities.

Re:10 years!?! (5, Informative)

PerMolestiasEruditio (1118269) | about a year ago | (#41765529)

in 5 years it will be obsolete, there will be yet another telescope launched into space that can see far greater distances before this is even built.

I'm wonder why anyone would even bother putting a telescope on the planet at this point, put it on the moon , no atmosphere to obstruct your view.

4 times higher resolution than James Webb, 12 times the light collecting area, 10% of the cost.

Space telescopes are only sensible for the sections of the spectrum the earth-bound just can't do.

Re:10 years!?! (1)

14erCleaner (745600) | about a year ago | (#41766845)

I'm wonder why anyone would even bother putting a telescope on the planet at this point

This scope will cost about $700 million to build; the Hubble Space Telescope cost $2.5 billion initially, and about $10 billion over its lifetime. Much better bang-for-your-buck to build telescopes on the ground, even if the space telescopes can do more. Sometimes quantity is better than quality.

Re:10 years!?! (1)

afidel (530433) | about a year ago | (#41765649)

First the James Webb Space Telescope is on the edge of being chopped from the budget, second even if it's not chopped it looks like it will be 2020+ before it launches, and third it's only better in certain parts of the spectrum. Not only that but the JWST can only observe so much of the universe at a time, having multiple mirrors collecting data means we're more likely to pick up interesting data. As to the moon idea, sure once we have a heavy launch vehicle with a non-trivial lunar orbit injection capability that will be a fine idea, but the only thing even planned in that class right now is Falcon XX/Falcon X Heavy which uses an engine that hasn't yet been designed.

Re:10 years!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41765697)

in 5 years it will be obsolete, there will be yet another telescope launched into space that can see far greater distances before this is even built.
Umm.. what? I'm not aware of any telescope that would be a direct replacement for this one that's scheduled to be launched in as little as five years. I'm not even aware of one that's even been proposed.

Could you please post which telescope you're referring to?

Re:10 years!?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41765777)

And what if someone builds another, better telescope at some point? Astronomers use a lot more than just the single best telescope out there. If a better telescope is made, older ones don't become instantly useless. It would only be useless when the operating costs become too much for what it can be used for. That would take quite a few better scopes being built and technological improvements being made before access time on better scopes is easy enough to get that no one would want to use this one. When you have limited research resources and need to prioritize, everyone doesn't get to use the best, they have to figure out and ask for what is good enough.

Re:10 years!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41766329)

in 5 years it will be obsolete, there will be yet another telescope launched into space that can see far greater distances before this is even built.

I'm wonder why anyone would even bother putting a telescope on the planet at this point, put it on the moon , no atmosphere to obstruct your view.

100 year old telescopes are still going strong, moreso with all the technical upgrades to the various instruments over the course of decades.
Building big telescopes on earth makes more sense, from a scientific, from a financial and from a return on investment point of view. The very rare cases where you need a space telescope use one (for instance the James Webb Space Telescope that searches in the infrared spectrum).
Otherwise the bigger the telescope the better on earth. How are you going to put into orbit a 30 meter optical telescope ? And how the hell are you going to service it ?

Re:10 years!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41766381)

hardly. And Earth can definitely use more than one of this class. But what we really need to do is kick-start this baby: the Overwhelmingly_Large_Telescope [wikipedia.org]

Re:10 years!?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41772459)

How does that compare to the Ludicrously Large Telescope?

Re:10 years!?! (2)

Bengie (1121981) | about a year ago | (#41766579)

I would love to see someone put a 120ton telescope into space. The clarity of a telescope is mostly a function of the amount of light it can collect, so one would still need a very large space based telescope to compete with the ground based one.

Now try again in metric (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41765301)

All y'all call themselfs "nerds" and "geeks" and other science-y types, or what?

Re:Now try again in metric (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41765491)

How much is 4.32 mL per second in kiloLiters per year?

Re:Now try again in metric (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about a year ago | (#41765907)

(4.32 x 10^-6) / (525600 * 60)

Time isn't metric, but all you need to know is 60 seconds per minute and that song from Rent.

Time isn't metric (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41767145)

Is exactly the point. Your point is that to do science I need to memorize show tunes.

Re:Now try again in metric (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41767879)

You call yourself a nerd and can't do basic arithmetic in your head and remember a few rough (or even exact...) conversions? Nerds will memorize various dimensions and conversions for LoC units, but find it easier to complain than to remember an inch is 2.54 cm or a meter is about three and a quarter feet. Memorizing archaic trivia is ok, as long as that is not useful, mainstream archaic trivia like conventional units...

See that (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about a year ago | (#41765403)

The UA football team is funding science by letting them set up a lab in the musty cellar of their stadium!

Re:See that (1)

NixieBunny (859050) | about a year ago | (#41765645)

Both football and telescopes are multi-million dollar enterprises at the University.

The mirror lab is built under the nosebleed section of the stadium, so it's not a cellar at all. It's a five story building built on a former parking lot.

27 what? (1)

Kickasso (210195) | about a year ago | (#41765441)

How much is this in bushels per acre?

Re:27 what? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#41768625)

27 feet. That's obviously a pretty large bed, 13 healthy people and one Afghanistan amputee fit in it. It's just that we have no idea how many sleeping space a person has in it, so exact dimensions are subject to speculation.

wtf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41766397)

27 foot mirror, 27 pixel picture of it!

Feet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41766499)

When are you stupid americans going to stop your imperial measurement nonsense?

Dumb fucks

ET (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41771441)

PLEASE, FIND E.T!

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