October 30, 2019 - PASADENA, USA/Mainz. GMTO Corporation, the organization managing the development of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) on behalf of its U.S. and international founders, has signed a contract with MT Mechatronics (a subsidiary of the listed company OHB SE) and Ingersoll Machine Tools to design, build and install the telescope’s precision steel structure. The GMT is a 24.5-meter (80-ft) diameter next-generation giant optical-infrared observatory that will explore the frontiers of astronomy, including seeking to answer one of humanity’s most pressing questions: “Are we alone?” The GMT will study the atmospheres of planets orbiting stars far from our solar system to search for signs of biochemistry.
MT Mechatronics of Mainz, Germany, and Rockford, Illinois-based Ingersoll Machine Tools, part of the Italian Camozzi Group, will design and manufacture the 1,800-ton precision mechanism, known as the “telescope structure” that will hold the GMT’s optics and smoothly track celestial targets as they move across the sky. The telescope structure will be designed by MT Mechatronics and manufactured, assembled and tested by Ingersoll before being shipped to, and installed at, the GMT observatory site high in the remote Chilean Andes.
The total value of the telescope structure contract is EUR 123 million, the share of MT Mechatronics included therein amounts to EUR 60 million.
The telescope structure will hold the GMT’s seven giant mirrors in place as they bring light from distant stars and galaxies to a focus so it can be analyzed by scientific instruments mounted deep inside the telescope. The mirrors, the largest in the world, are made at the University of Arizona’s Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab. When in operation, the telescope structure, complete with mirrors and instruments, will weigh 2,100 tons but will float on a film of oil just 50 microns (2 one-thousandths of an inch) thick – allowing it to move essentially without friction as it compensates for Earth’s rotation, tracking celestial bodies in their arc across the sky. With its unique design, the GMT will produce images that are 10 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope in the infrared region of the spectrum.
“Being a part of an endeavor with objectives as distinguished as the Giant Magellan Telescope’s is compelling for MT Mechatronics and we’re eager to support the GMT on its quest to answer the deepest questions in astronomy,” said Thomas Zimmerer, Senior Vice President, Business Development Sales & Marketing, Product Development, MT Mechatronics. “We look forward to collaborating with GMTO over the next decade to bring the telescope’s massive structure to fruition.”
The contract between GMTO, MT Mechatronics and Ingersoll Machine Tools will involve nine years of work and 1,300 tons of structural steel, and the structure is expected to be delivered to Chile at the end of 2025 and be ready to accept mirrors in 2028.
About the Giant Magellan Telescope
The Giant Magellan Telescope is a next-generation ground-based telescope that promises to revolutionize our understanding and view of the universe. The GMT is poised to enable breakthrough discoveries in cosmology, the study of black holes, dark matter, dark energy, and the search for life beyond our solar system. The telescope’s primary mirror combines seven 8.4-meter (27 feet) diameter circular segments to form an effective aperture 24.5 meters in diameter. The GMT will be located at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert and the project is the work of a distinguished international consortium of leading universities and science institutions. Funding for the project comes from the partner institutions, governments and private donors.
About GMTO Corporation
GMTO Corporation manages the GMT project on behalf of its international Founders: Arizona State University, Astronomy Australia Ltd., The Australian National University, Carnegie Institution for Science, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, Harvard University, Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, University of Arizona, University of Chicago and The University of Texas at Austin.
About MT Mechatronics
MT Mechatronics, located in Mainz, Germany, provides global services as prime contractor for design, development, system integration, commissioning, training, maintenance and operations for communication and deep space antennas, radio and optical telescopes, mechatronic equipment for research institutions, launching facilities for the European space program and large medical systems for the next generation of particle cancer therapies. MT Mechatronics is a 100% subsidiary of the German OHB group. OHB SE is a leading European space and technology group with more than 35 years of experience in developing and executing innovative space technology systems and projects.