Next-Gen Megascope for Astronomy Taking shape on Chilean Mountaintop

May 20, 2019

An arid mountaintop in the Chilean Andes is being transformed into a next-generation astronomy hub.

Hard-rock excavation at the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) site — a patch of rocky desert 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level, about a 2-hour drive from the coastal town of La Serena — wrapped up in March. And the project team recently selected a contractor to build the mount, a steel structure that will house the huge telescope's mirrors and scientific instruments.

"This is the core of the observatory," said Robert Shelton, president of the GMTO Corp.

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