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Weizmann Institute of Science Joins Giant Magellan Telescope Project

Weizmann Institute of Science Joins Giant Magellan Telescope Project
Giant Magellan Telescope primary mirror segment with people in silhouette. Credit: Damien Jemison, Giant Magellan Telescope - GMTO Corporation.

The University of Texas at Austin and other co-founders of the Giant Magellan Telescope project welcomed the Weizmann Institute of Science into their international consortium on September 14.

The new partnership reinforces that completing the largest and most powerful optical-infrared telescope ever engineered is a top priority for the global scientific community. The unprecedented abilities of the Giant Magellan Telescope coupled with the Weizmann Institute of Science's world-leading scientific expertise and resources in astrophysics will revolutionize the way humanity understands the universe and our place in it.

"The University of Texas at Austin welcomes the Weizmann Institute of Science to the Giant Magellan Telescope partnership," said Taft Armandroff, director of the university's McDonald Observatory and vice chair of GMT's governing board. "We have many scientific and technical interests in common."

The Weizmann Institute of Science is a distinguished multidisciplinary research institution from Israel. Their Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for Astrophysics promotes research in nearly all aspects of astronomy, expanding the GMT's research capabilities by capitalizing on the center's outstanding team of astrophysicists and benefiting from renowned Israeli innovation. Before officially joining the GMTO Corporation, faculty at the Weizmann Institute of Science helped develop one of the first scientific instruments for the telescope, a spectrograph that is designed to study Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars.

"The addition of the Weizmann Institute of Science is a giant win for our international consortium," said Walter Massey, Board Chair of the GMTO Corporation and former director of the National Science Foundation. "We just became stronger and more capable. We are now one step closer to pointing the world's largest mirrors toward the heavens and unlocking its many cosmic secrets."

Construction of the next-generation telescope is well underway on Las Campanas Peak at the southern edge of Chile's Atacama Desert, one of the best locations on Earth to explore the universe. It will use seven of the world's largest mirrors and the most advanced adaptive optics technology to see billions of light-years into the universe with ten times the resolution of the famed Hubble Space Telescope. This extraordinary image clarity will enable scientists around the globe to obtain new clues to the fundamental nature and evolution of the universe — including the search for life on distant exoplanets.

The Weizmann Institute of Science is the thirteenth member of the GMTO Corporation, joining Arizona State University, Astronomy Australia Ltd., Australian National University, Carnegie Institution for Science, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo – FAPESP, Harvard University, Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, The University of Texas at Austin, University of Arizona, and the University of Chicago. The international consortium anticipates commissioning the Giant Magellan Telescope in the late 2020s.

To learn more about the Weizmann Institute of Science, visit weizmann.ac.il. To learn more about the GMTO Corporation, the international nonprofit organization building the Giant Magellan Telescope, visit gmto.org.

Note to editors: Multimedia assets and media usage statement available here until November 1, 2021.

Media Contact:

Rebecca Johnson, Communications Mgr.

McDonald Observatory

The University of Texas at Austin

512-475-6763; rjohnson@astro.as.utexas.edu

Science Contact

Taft Armandroff

Director, UT-Austin McDonald Observatory

Vice Chair, GMTO Board of Directors

512-471-3300; director@astro.as.utexas.edu

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