AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas announced Tuesday it will be upping its investment into the Giant Magellan Telescope project. It’s increasing its total investment into the project to $110.3 million, up from the $65 million investment it had already planned. The investment was first announced in 2019, with UT serving as a founding partner.
The Giant Magellan, once complete, will be the most powerful telescope on Earth. The telescope will be built in northern Chile as part of the Extremely Large Telescope Program.
The telescope will have seven primary mirrors once completed and will see both visible and near infrared light.
The new funds will be used to construct the 12-story telescope structure as well as construction of the mirrors. The telescope structure will be built in Illinois.
The project is led by the U.S. in partnership with Australia, Brazil, Israel and South Korea.
Seven universities based in the U.S. are participating partners in the project, including Texas A&M and UT Austin.
Currently, $205 million has been invested into the project. The final cost of the project is expected to be around $1 billion.
What makes the Giant Magellan Telescope so special?
Once complete, the Giant Magellan Telescope will be 10 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope will also be able to collect 10 times the light of the James Webb Space Telescope, although that telescope sees in different wavelengths of lights and doesn’t have to deal with light pollution from the Earth and the Sun.
Team members with the Giant Magellan program told KXAN that the telescope will not suffer from light pollution from the Sun, since it only operates at night. It is also outfitted with an advanced optic system that can circumvent distortions other Earth based satellites suffer due to the planet’s atmosphere.
Six of the seven mirrors the telescope will use have already been completed. A 40,000-square-foot facility will be needed to construct the new telescope structure. An adaptive secondary mirror will also need to be built.
The telescope is expected to begin use by the end of the decade.