OHB Italia is developing, with OHB Digital Connect, the cover system for seven of the world’s largest mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), the high-performance optical-infrared telescope currently under construction, which will be installed in Chile (Atacama Desert), with operations starting in 2029.

The telescope is composed of seven primary mirrors, 8.4 meters in diameter, to form an effective aperture of 25.4 meters that will be able to explore new frontiers in nearly all areas of astronomy, analyzing a distant planet’s atmosphere in search of life, gathering faint light from the farthest reaches of the known universe, providing detailed chemical analyses of celestial objects and their origins, looking back in time to when the universe first formed

The complex mechanical covers will protect the giant mirrors from damage, minimize their exposure from dust and particles, ensure a stable thermal environment and provide access to the telescope’s subsystems that cannot be safely accessed with the mirrors exposed. The covers are made of an aluminum honeycomb composite that will safely support personnel walking on the surface of the telescope during maintenance. The covers can be operated locally or remotely with an open (or close) time of 150sec.

The cover system has been completely designed by OHB-Italia in Milan offices and the M1C first petal cover with M1O full cover has been manufactured, assembled and tested by an Italian consortium led by OHB-Italia with the precious support of New Production Concept (NPC) in Imola: a unique challenge if we think that the huge “origami-like” folding covers must deploy and retract reliably and at unison to awaken the giant telescope every single night.

OHB Italia, confirmed once again its high-capability in supplying complex mechanisms as leading system integrator for ground equipment complementing the ones for Satellites and Payloads.