Tag Archives: Chile

Ground-breaking for the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile

Even as construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) in Hawaii remains stalled because of protesters, ground has now been broken in Chile for the construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT).

The unique design of the telescope combines seven of the largest mirrors that can be manufactured, each 8.4 meters (27 feet) across, to create a single telescope effectively 25 meters or 85 feet in diameter. The giant mirrors are being developed at the University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Laboratory. Each mirror must be polished to an accuracy of 25 nanometers or one millionth of an inch.

One giant mirror has been polished to meet its exacting specifications. Three others are being processed, and production of the additional mirrors will be started at the rate of one per year. The telescope will begin early operations with these first mirrors in 2021, and the telescope is expected to reach full operational capacity within the next decade.

Assuming TMT ever gets built, it will, unlike GMT, be made up of many small segments.

GMT about to begin construction

Forget the TMT! The consortium building the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) have secured the half billion dollars of funding required to begin construction in Chile.

Unlike Hawaii, Chile’s population welcomes astronomers and telescopes, so don’t expect any of those kinds of political problems getting this telescope finished.

Ground-breaking for LSST takes place in Chile

The official launch of construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) took place today in Chile.

Today, collaborators from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Technológica (CONICYT) and several other international public-private partners will gather outside La Serena, Chile, for a traditional Chilean stone-laying ceremony to celebrate the construction launch of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).

They did the same kind of ceremony in Hawaii for the ground-breaking of the Thirty Meter Telescope, but things have gone very sour since. In Chile, however, I expect no problems. I wonder which local community has more sense.

Groundbreaking — the literally blasting off of a mountaintop — took place today in Chile at the eventual site of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

Groundbreaking — the literally blasting off of a mountaintop — took place today in Chile at the eventual site of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).

Once completed in 2024 this telescope will have a segmented mirror with a total diameter of 39 meters or 128 feet, the largest ever built.

Want to watch some astronomers blow up the top of a mountain? You can!

Want to watch some astronomers blow up the top of a mountain? You can!

Seriously, construction crews will in June begin blasting to prepare this mountain top in Chile for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), a gigantic optical telescope that will have a primary mirror 39 meters or 128 feet across and is scheduled for completion sometime in the next decade. To mark the event they will be providing a live stream for everyone worldwide to watch.

Chile’s powerful Cerro Hudson volcano is threatening to erupt

Chile’s powerful Cerro Hudson volcano has come back to life and is threatening a major eruption.

Patagonians are worried. Many remember Mount Hudson’s catastrophic eruptions of 1971 and 1991. The latter eruption was one of the most violent registered eruptions in Chile, and lasted for five months. At its peak it turned day into night, making the banks of nearby Huemules, Cupquelan and Ibáñez Rivers collapse with ash. Many areas in the region are still covered with ash, pumice and other volcanic rocks. “These are the characteristics of this highly explosive volcano,” said Juan Cayupi, a volcanologist at the National Emergency Office.

The strange rubbing boulders of Chile

The strange rubbing boulders of Chile.

Then, on another trip to the Atacama, Quade was standing on one of these boulders, pondering their histories when a 5.3 magnitude earthquake struck. The whole landscape started moving and the sound of the grinding of rocks was loud and clear.

“It was this tremendous sound, like the chattering of thousands of little hammers,” Quade said. He’d probably have made a lot more observations about the minute-long event, except he was a bit preoccupied by the boulder he was standing on, which he had to ride like a surfboard. “The one I was on rolled like a top and bounced off another boulder. I was afraid I would fall off and get crushed.”

The abstract is here.

Life in the Chilean mine

A very detailed update on the trapped Chilean miners, now expected to be rescured in early November. Two key quotes:

The miners are sleeping on cots that were sent down in pieces and reassembled, and each can look forward every weekend to eight minutes each of video chat time with his family using compact cameras and a phone that was disassembled to fit through the hole.


Their routine starts with breakfast – hot coffee or tea with milk and a ham-and-cheese sandwich. Then lots of labor: Removing the loose rock that drops through the bore holes as they are being widened into escape tunnels; cleaning up their trash and emptying the toilet; and attending to the capsules known as “palomas” – Spanish for carrier pigeons – that are lowered to them with supplies.

The miners must quickly remove the contents – food, clean clothes, medicine, family letters and other supplies – and send back up material such as dirty clothes, rolled up like sausages to fit. Each trip down takes 12 to 15 minutes, then four minutes for unloading and five minutes to pull them back up. At least three miners are constantly stationed at the bore hole for this work.

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