The Giant Magellan Telescope project
The original Magellan partner institutions and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Texas A&M University, and The University of Texas at Austin have undertaken to construct an extremely large telescope in Chile. The Giant Magellan Telescope is built around seven 8.4m borosilicate honeycomb mirror segments, six of which are off-axis. The collecting area is equivalent to that of a filled aperture 21.5m in diameter, the angular resolution is equivalent to a filled 24.4m telescope. The telescope mount is highly compact and delivers light to the focal plane in two reflections. Instruments are mounted at either a low-background straight Gregorian focus, or to one of several folded Gregorian foci behind the center primary mirror segment. A set of candidate first generation instruments has been defined and conceptual design studies are underway. The first off-axis primary mirror segment has been cast and will soon be polished as part of a proto-typing program. The current schedule calls for first light in mid 2015. This contribution describes the telescope and the considerations that led to its design.
The Scientific Requirements for Extremely Large Telescopes
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