The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) Corporation has announced that last month it welcomed Israel’s prestigious Weizmann Institute of Science into its international consortium of distinguished universities and research institutions building the giant telescope
The new partnership reinforces the completion of the largest and most powerful Gregorian optical-infrared telescope ever engineered is a top priority for the global scientific community, a joint statement from GMTO Corporation and Weizmann said.
The distinguished multidisciplinary research institution from Israel is known for its Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for Astrophysics promotes research in nearly all aspects of astronomy, expanding the Giant Magellan Telescope’s research capabilities by capitalizing on the Center’s outstanding team of astrophysicists and benefiting from renowned Israeli innovation.
Before officially joining the GMTO Corporation, faculty at the Weizmann Institute of Science helped develop one of the first scientific instruments for the telescope, a spectrograph that is designed to study Earth-like planets around solar-type stars.
Based on the institute’s leadership in astrophysics, particle physics and space mission design, the Weizmann Institute of Science, through its flagship initiative, aims to provide new levels of insight into the central questions of fundamental physics, while contributing to wide-ranging practical applications. The Giant Magellan Telescope is critical to the initiative.
“Joining the GMTO consortium is a huge leap forward for the Weizmann Institute of Science,” said Professor Avishay Gal-Yam, head of the Deloro Center for Space and Optics at the Weizmann Institute. “It is a privilege to join a global team on the forefront of astrophysics research, which will allow us to accelerate our own observatory capabilities, develop instruments that will elevate the way the world’s leading astrophysics teams explore the universe and share expertise with the top partners in the field of astrophysics.”
Construction of the next-generation telescope is currently underway on Las Campanas Peak at the southern edge of Chile’s Atacama Desert, which is considered one of the best locations on Earth to explore the universe, according to the announcement. It will use seven of the world’s largest mirrors and the most advanced adaptive optics technology to see billions of lightyears into the universe with ten times the resolution of the famed Hubble Space Telescope. This extraordinary image clarity will enable scientists around the world to obtain new clues to the fundamental nature and evolution of the universe — including the search for life on distant exoplanets.
The Weizmann Institute of Science is the thirteenth member of the GMTO Corporation, joining the Arizona State University, Astronomy Australia Ltd., Australian National University, Carnegie Institution for Science, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo – FAPESP, Harvard University, Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, The University of Texas at Austin, University of Arizona, and University of Chicago. The international consortium anticipates commissioning the Giant Magellan Telescope in the late 2020s.
“The addition of the Weizmann Institute of Science is a giant win for our international consortium,” said Walter Massey, board chair of the GMTO Corporation and former director of the National Science Foundation. “We just became stronger and more capable. We are now one step closer to pointing the world’s largest mirrors toward the heavens and unlocking its many cosmic secrets.”