The Giant Magellan Telescope is a marvel of engineering, and Dr. Patrick McCarthy explains the years-long process to make an optic mirror that costs over $20 million.
Via IEEE Spectrum:
To begin, more than 17,000 kilograms of special glass are ordered and inspected for flaws. Next, a crew must build a 15-metric ton ceramic structure to serve as a mold for the glass, which they carefully place one chunk at a time. The glass is slowly melted and continuously spun in a furnace to create a parabolic shape, then cooled by fractions of degrees over the course of three months. And that’s only the beginning.
Once cooled, massive machinery lifts the mirror and tilts it to a vertical position. Engineers purge the ceramic mold from the mirror, wait for it to dry, and then rotate it again. They grind and refine the back of the mirror with exacting precision. Then they reposition the mirror in order to shape and polish the front face to within 20 nanometers of perfection—a process that takes about 18 months. Along the way, it undergoes four optical tests, some of which were engineered specifically for this project.
• Casting a $20 Million Mirror for the World’s Largest Telescope (YouTube / IEEE Spectrum)
Ziya Tong is a veteran science reporter who spent years hosting Discovery's flagship science program, Daily Planet: it's the sort of job that gives you a very broad, interdisciplinary view of the sciences, and it shows in her debut book, The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions that Shape Our World, […]
A new study on polar ice sheet melt warns that global sea levels could rise by almost six feet by the year 2100, an estimate twice as high as previously predicted.
Next year, NASA’s Artemis 1 mission will carry a baker’s dozen of small cubesats to space, including one that’s home to a colony of yeast cells. That cubesat, BioSentinel, will orbit the sun to help scientists understand how space radiation affects living organisms outside of Low Earth Orbit. NASA hasn’t purposely sent any lifeforms beyond […]
Need to upgrade your sound? Bluetooth technology has never been better, but that’s not the only reason to look into a new set of speakers or headphones. We found ten pieces of audio gear that are already on sale, and you can take an additional 15% off the final price for Memorial Day weekend by […]
Trying to earn a promotion? Memorial Day weekend might be a good place to start. There are tons of e-learning packages that can help you build professional skills a lot quicker (and cheaper) than any technical academy. Whether you want to earn IT certifications, learn to code, become a designer, or anything else, these comprehensive […]
If you’re into tools or gadgets, Memorial Day weekend is your Christmas. Take an extra 15% off the final price of these DIY accessories – all of which are already on sale – by entering the promo code WEEKEND15. LUXJET Universal 24-in-1 Magnetic Screwdriver Set & Repair Kit This small but sturdy kit won the […]