Grinding 20-Ton Mirrors For The Giant Magellan Telescope

One of the largest telescopes ever made will reveal previously unobservable facets of our universe's past.

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) will be one of the largest telescopes ever made, and will allow scientists to observe distant realms in unprecedented detail. It will display the far reaches of the universe at 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope, and will also be able to measure the spectra of these distant objects. The GMT, located in Chile’s Atacama Desert, will be completed in about 10 years and will require extraordinary precision and care.


Seven “perfect mirrors”–20 tons of glass in each–will be enclosed in a structure the height of a 22-story building. The quality of both the mirrors and their calibration is immensely important and challenging: “We have to make this optic precise enough so that when the light travels 5, 10 billion light-years and comes and hits our telescope, we don’t scramble and lose that information that’s traveled so long,” explains the director of GMT, Dr. Pat McCarthy.

This new video shows the extreme precision with which the telescope is currently being constructed:

The GMT team knows the telescope will prove its worth. Dr. Wendy Freedman, chairman of GMT, predicts: “We will witness, directly, the first galaxies forming, the first supernovae forming, the first black holes forming, and see how the universe that we’re living in now… came to be.”