The Giant Magellan Telescope, of which the University of Chicago is a founding member, has received a $17.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to accelerate the prototyping and testing of some of the most powerful optical and infrared technologies ever engineered.
These crucial advancements for the Giant Magellan Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile will allow astronomers to see farther into space with more detail than any other optical telescope before. The NSF grant positions the telescope to be one of the first in a new generation of large telescopes, approximately three times the size of any ground-based optical telescope built to date.
The GMT and the Thirty Meter Telescope are a part of the U.S. Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP), a joint initiative with NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) to provide observing access to the entire sky as never before. Upon completion of each telescope, U.S. scientists and international partners will be able to take advantage of the program’s two pioneering telescopes to carry out transformational research that answers some of humanity’s most pressing questions, such as whether we are alone in the universe and where we come from.
“We are honored to receive our first NSF grant,” said Robert Shelton, president of the GMTO Corporation. “It is a giant step toward realizing the GMT’s scientific goals and the profound impact the GMT will have on the future of human knowledge.”
“This telescope will boost virtually every area of astronomy and in many cases, make transformative discoveries,” said Michael Gladders, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UChicago and member of the GMT’s science committee. “More broadly, the involvement of NSF is a wonderful and important step for the entire astronomical community, as we look to bring access to more astronomers at every U.S. institution.”