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8.4-meter Mirror Successfully Installed in Large Binocular Telescope

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Old April 8th 04, 06:54 PM
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Default 8.4-meter Mirror Successfully Installed in Large Binocular Telescope

From LBT Corp., 520-626-5231
April 8, 2004

Contact Information

John M. Hill
LBT Project director

Peter A. Strittmatter
LBT Corp. president

LBT Corp. media contact:
Matt Smith

Related Web sites
LBT http://medusa.as.arizona.edu/lbtwww/lbt.html

High-resolution photos for download
per instructions listed at end of release

The University of Arizona today announced that the first 8.4-meter (27-foot)
primary mirror for the worldıs most powerful telescope, the Large Binocular
Telescope (LBT), has successfully been installed in the telescope structure
at Arizonaıs Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO).

The 18-ton mirror made its 150-mile journey from Tucson to the top of Mount
Graham near Safford, Ariz., in October 2003. Now the mirror has been
installed in the telescope, and technicians are testing intricate mirror
support system hardware and software in preparation for telescope "first
light." First light, or when the mirror collects its first celestial light,
is expected later this year.

The deeply parabolic mirror was cast and figured at the University of
Arizonaıs renowned Steward Observatory Mirror Lab and is the first of two
identical giant mirrors that will make up the LBT. The mirrors are much
larger and lighter than conventional solid-glass mirrors used in the past.
Both together are valued at $22 million.

Each LBT mirror is a "honeycomb" structure made out of borosilicate glass
that was melted, molded, and spun into shape in a specially designed
rotating oven. Once cast, the first mirror was polished to near perfection
using the Mirror Lab's innovative "stressed-lap" technique. The mirror
surface matches the desired shape to within a millionth of an inch over its
entire surface. The Mirror Lab is currently polishing the second primary

After the first mirror was moved to the telescope structure late last year,
engineers spent more than two months testing and perfecting mirror
installation procedures using a dummy mirror in the actual mirror "cell," or
mirror support structure. The mirror was then installed in the cell and, in
precise operations that required maneuvering the mirror and cell through a
hatchway between building floors with only inches to spare, LBT workers
lifted the mirror onto the telescope structure. The telescope is housed in
an innovative 16-story rotating enclosure.

John M. Hill, LBT Project director, said, ³This is a huge step in what has
been a very long and challenging process and would not have been possible
without the support of a great team. From construction of our unique
telescope structure to the implementation of this massive mirror, every step
has involved great minds using cutting-edge technology. The remarkable
success we have had so far is a tribute to the creative efforts of our team

Work on the $100 million LBT project began with construction of the
telescope building in 1996 and will be completed in 2005. The project is
entirely funded by the LBT Corp., an international consortium of scientific
and academic institutions. When the LBT is fully operational, it will be the
worldıs most technologically advanced optical telescope, creating images
expected to be nearly 10 times sharper than images from the Hubble Space

Peter A. Strittmatter, president of the LBT Corp., said, ³The twin mirrors
of the LBT will have the light gathering capabilities of an 11.8 meter
(39-foot) conventional telescope. This is an exciting time for everyone who
has been involved in this pioneering effort. The LBT will provide
unprecedented views of our universe, including for the first time, the
ability to image planets far beyond our solar system. I believe this is the
first of the next generation of extremely large telescopes and will signal
the beginning of a new golden era in this type of space exploration.²

The LBT project is managed by the LBT Corp., a partnership that includes the
University of Arizona; Ohio State University; the Research Corp.; the LBTB,
a German consortium of astronomical research institutes; and the INAF, the
Italian National Institute for Astrophysics. The LBT Corp. was established
in 1992 to undertake the construction and operation of the LBT.

* * *

PHOTOS: You can download the three high-resolution photo files directly
with your web browser at this address:




Your web browser may or may not be set up to view these images, which are
high-resolution (between 6 MB and 6.6MB) TIFF images. You might be prompted
by your web browser to save the files to your hard-drive: choose this
option. That way, you can save the file any place on your computer and open
it up later.

If your web browser can display the pictures, right-click (Windows) or
control-click (Macintosh) on the image to save to your computer.

If you have any problems with this, please contact Yisrael Espinoza in News


lbt4890_2a.tif Steward Observatory senior staff technician David Sakacs
works on integrating the mirror and its support cell. The upright structure
next to the mirror, which is covered with protective plastic, will support
interchangable instrument packages. (Photo: Lori Stiles, UA News)

lbt4890_17a.tif A red-painted C-ring casts a glow on plastic covering
the LBT's first mirror. C-rings bear the weight of the mirror and support
cell in the telescope structure. (Photo: Lori Stiles, UA News)

lbt4890_21a.tif Ground-level view of the LBT. The mounted mirror cell in
its horizontal position is visible to the right of the closest giant C-ring.
(Photo: Lori Stiles, UA News)

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