Giant Magellan Telescope: new contract for protecting the world’s largest mirrors

Bremen/Milan, October 4, 2021. OHB Italia signed with OHB Digital Connect, both subsidiaries of the of the space group OHB SE, a contract for the development of a cover system for seven of the world’s largest mirrors on the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The complex mechanical covers are critical for keeping the telescope operational.

The Giant Magellan Telescope is one of the most advanced ground-based telescopes ever engineered, with a resolving power ten times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope. It will be located at Las Campanas Observatory in the Chilean Atacama Desert. Once operational, the GMT will explore new frontiers in nearly all areas of astronomy — from understanding the fundamental nature of the universe to the search for life on distant exoplanets. The telescope uses seven primary mirrors, each 8.4 meters in diameter, to form an effective aperture of 25 meters that will be able to gather faint light from the farthest reaches of the known universe.

OHB Italia will develop complex mechanical covers to 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 will be 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/close time of 150sec. “The huge origami-like folding mirror covers must deploy and retract reliably and in unison to awaken the giant telescope every single night,” said Samuel Park, Telescope Structures Project Manager for the Giant Magellan Telescope. “OHB’s proven track record of delivering reliable precision mechanisms ensure the success of this unique challenge.”

“OHB Italia, with the signature of the multimillion Giant Magellan Telescope ‘XL’ covers’ contract, once again confirms its capability in supplying complex mechanisms,” declared Roberto Aceti, Managing Director of the company. “We are very proud to participate to the Giant Magellan Telescope’s project because it enables us to confirm OHB Italia role, at national and European level, as leading system integrator for ground equipment complementing the ones for Satellites and Payloads.”

For further information on Giant Magellan Telescope please visit the official website of Giant Magellan Telescope Corporation: