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Building Giant Magellan, the world's largest telescope


Giant Magellan telescope is expected to be the world's largest optical telescope once it's completed CBS news correspondent Jim Axelrod reports from the unique place the telescope's being built it is certainly a peculiar place for a state of the art laboratory but under the football stadium at the university of Arizona this one we started just about eighteen months ago Patrick McCarthy has the international group building the largest optical telescope in the world the giant Magellan so one of the big discoveries in astronomy in the past twenty years is that ninety seven percent of universe we have no idea what it is but McCarthy says the giant Magellan project is working to change that that is a chunk of glass feel it's pretty heavy this is pretty dense stuff it takes about twenty tons of these to make one they're using special glass which makes up the telescope seven twenty seven foot circular mayors thirty shipped in from Japan then melted down in a specially engineered rotating furnace I think it is probably the only rotating furnace for making large mirrors the reaches temperatures of more than twenty one hundred degrees how complicated is it to build these wears pretty complicated and it's a real precision polishing challenge in each mere when they're finished is so precise and so smooth if you made it the size of the continental United States the distance between the tallest mountain peaks in the deepest valleys half an inch what's that smell Magellan's mirrors will eventually end up on a mountain top in Chile's Atacama desert housed inside a twenty two story

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