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How to make a mirror worth $ 20 million for the world’s largest telescope

The American journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers IEEE Spectrum in early January visited the laboratory of the University of Arizona, where they create mirrors for the Giant Magellanic telescope. The video attracted attention of Reddit users.

The team from the laboratory poured the first mirror blank for the telescope back in 2005. Researchers are waiting for the completion of the construction in 2025. After that, it will become the world’s largest telescope. According to the creators of the project, seven 8.4-meter mirrors will unite and form a 24.5-meter mirror telescope, 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The production of each mirror costs about $ 20 million and takes more than two years. To begin with, specialists order more than 17 tons of special glass and check it for defects. Then they build a ceramic structure with a diameter of 15 meters, which serves as a mold for glass. The glass is slowly melted and continuously rotated in an oven to create a parabolic shape, and then cooled for three months.

After cooling, a massive technique raises the mirror and translates it into a vertical position. Engineers move the mirror to form and polish the front face – the process takes about 18 months. In parallel, it passes four optical tests, some of which were specifically designed for this project.

Once the mirror is finished, they will be transported to the Chilean Andes, where a telescope will be installed on the top of the ridge.

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