史密森尼天文物理观测馆 (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) 正与一个国际合作伙伴小组合作建造新一代世界最大，最强的望远镜。 建成后的巨型麦哲伦望远镜 (GMT) 将是世界上最大的光学望眼镜，它产生的宇宙图像清晰度将达到哈勃空间望远镜 (Hubble Space Telescope) 的十倍。
Slated to become operational by 2029, the GMT will explore the distant universe and look for signs of life outside our planet.
Preparations are already underway in the Chilean Andes at the Las Campanas Observatory. Here, in the remote Atacama Desert, the GMT will profit from some of the clearest, driest skies on Earth. When finished, the telescope will stand 65-meters high, with seven of the largest telescope mirrors ever employed. Each mirror will be 8.4 meters in diameter and together will provide more than 368 meters, or 3,691 square feet, of light-collecting area. The GMT primary mirrors are being made at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab in Tucson, Arizona.
Smithsonian partners in the GMT Consortium include the Australian National University, Astronomy Australia Limited, the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, the Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Chicago.
The international GMT Consortium selected the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to design and build the GMT-Consortium Large Earth Finder (G-CLEF), a powerful new spectrograph tool. G-CLEF will be the first instrument attached to the GMT initially. Together, GMT and G-CLEF will be able to detect worlds the size of Earth, located in the warm, habitable zones of distant stars.
This first-of-its-kind telescope will be capable of exploring the ancient past of the universe, probing the Big Bang and the formation of the first stars, galaxies, and black holes. Many of the discoveries the GMT will make possible are unknown, but with this new technology scientists may be able to answer the perennial question: “Are we alone in the universe?”