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Revolutionary Telescope Gets Green Light

An 82-foot telescope boasting ten times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope has successfully passed design reviews and is ready to be constructed.

The Giant Magellan Telescope will use a light-collecting mirror surface more than six times the area of current instruments to hunt for distant, potentially habitable planets and let astronomers time travel back to a billion years after the Big Bang.

Huge improvements in resolution are expected from the telescope’s adaptive optics system, which will flex secondary mirrors to compensate for atmospheric turbulence that normally distorts starlight.

An international consortium managing the project has chosen a remote Andean mountaintop in Chile to build the telescope. Technicians have already begun fabricating three of the device’s seven primary mirrors at a lab in Arizona. 

"I am delighted with the very positive results of the design and the cost reviews," said Wendy Freedman, director of the Carnegie Institution for Science observatories and chair of the board overseeing the project, in a statement. “Along with the successful casting of the first three 8.4-meter primary mirrors and the leveling of the mountaintop in Chile, each step brings us closer to construction.”

Backers of the telescope, which is expected to begin operating in a decade, say it will usher in a revolution in human knowledge about the universe. 

Gifs made from video courtesy of the Giant Magellan Telescope - GMTO Corporation.

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