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Australia invests in world's biggest and best telescopes



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SENATOR THE HON CHRIS EVANS Leader of the Government in the Senate Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research

MEDIA RELEASE

25 October 2012

Australia invests in world’s biggest and best telescopes

A significant milestone for international astronomy has been marked with the completion of the first gigantic mirror of what will be the world’s largest optical telescope.

Science and Research Minister, Senator Chris Evans, welcomed the completion of the first of seven 8.4 metre wide mirrors as part of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) which will be built at Las Campanas Observatory in the Chilean Andes.

The Australian Government has contributed $88.4 million to the GMT project.

“The GMT is a next-generation international project that will open new avenues of scientific discovery including the origin and evolution of our planetary systems and exploring the bigger mysteries of the cosmos,” Senator Evans said.

“The completion of this type of mirror is a world first and the GMT team is to be congratulated for their efforts which required a remarkable level of precision to shape and polish 20 tonnes of melted glass.”

The GMT project is an international collaboration between universities and research organisations in the United States, Korea and Australia.

“The GMT milestone rounds off a big month for the international astronomy community,” Senator Evans said.

“On 5 October we opened the $160 million Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope in Western Australia’s remote Murchison.

“The ASKAP will be a significant component of the world’s biggest radio telescope - the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) - to be hosted in Australia.

“Australia’s involvement in each of these cutting edge projects will result in training and employment opportunities - the GMT is expected to provide at least 95 highly skilled jobs for Australians and 145 supporting positions.

“The Gillard Government’s investment in groundbreaking international collaborations like the GMT and the SKA will help ensure Australia remains at the forefront of science and research in the 21st century.”

The GMT is expected to be operating at the end of the decade. More information is available at: www.gmto.org.

Senator Evans’ Media Contact: Amy McKenna 0408 570 603