Two U.S.-led giant telescope projects, rivals for nearly 2 decades, announced this week that they have agreed to join forces. The Giant Magellan Telescope, a 25-meter telescope under construction in Chile, and the Thirty Meter Telescope, which backers hope to build atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, are still short of partners and money. They will now work together to win funding from the National Science Foundation, which could help the projects catch up to a third giant telescope, the 39-meter European Extremely Large Telescope, due to begin operations in 2024. It is a historic peace accord to end a conflict that has divided funders and delayed both projects. The partnership commits the two projects to developing a joint plan that would allow astronomers from any institution to use the telescopes; under previous plans observing time was available only to researchers from nations or institutions that had provided funding.
Huge telescopes dot mountainsides around the world. From Hawaii to Chile, scientists seek out the perfect site with fair weather and dark, clear skies to peer deeply into space, clocking the movements of distant stars, planets, and other objects far beyond what we can see with the naked eye. SEE ALSO: Construction Begins on One of the World's Largest Telescopes A new observatory called the Giant Magellan Telescope, currently being built in Chile, should eventually be able to see far-off alien worlds and even take a look at their atmospheres. But right now, the project is in a critical phase. The glass being filled for the mirror casting.
HONOLULU – An agreement has been reached for a giant telescope to be built in Spain's Canary Islands if it cannot be put atop a Hawaii mountain. Telescope builder TMT International Observatory says Hawaii's Mauna Kea remains the preferred location for the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope. But some Native Hawaiians are fighting to keep the telescope off a mountain they consider sacred. Hawaii's Supreme Court invalidated the project's construction permit, forcing long-running hearings for a new one. It is unclear when a decision will be made.
Such a hearing would have further stalled the Thirty Meter Telescope project. Opponents say the telescope will desecrate land some Native Hawaiians consider sacred, while supporters say the telescope will advance scientific knowledge and that the location is among the best places in the world to build. Several other telescopes already stand on the Big Island mountain.