Aerial view of the GMT summit site at Las Campanas Observatory. The concentric circles show the outline of the enclosure and the telescope pier. Image credit: Ricardo Alcayaga, GMTO Corporation.
The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization today announced that it has awarded the contract to manage construction of the world’s largest observatory to WSP, a global engineering and professional services consultancy. Sited in the Chilean Andes, the Giant Magellan Telescope will combine the light from seven 8.4 meter mirrors to create a telescope with an effective aperture 24.5 meters in diameter (80 feet). With its unique design, the GMT will produce images that are 10 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space telescope in the infrared region of the spectrum.
“Managing the construction activities on the site in Chile is an enormous task with many interdependent activities,” said Dr. James Fanson, GMT Project Manager. “We are delighted in our selection of WSP as construction manager and look forward to working with them.”
The GMT will be constructed at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, an astronomical observatory owned by the Carnegie Institution for Science in the southern Atacama Desert of Chile. This site is known for being one of the best astronomical sites on the planet with its clear, dark skies and stable airflow producing exceptionally sharp images. GMTO has broken ground in Chile and has developed the infrastructure on the site needed to support construction activities. The telescope is expected to see first light in 2023.
As Construction Manager, WSP will work on behalf of GMTO to oversee all aspects of the construction, including budget, schedule, cost estimation, change control and site acceptance. WSP will draw upon its global organization and capabilities which includes Poch, a 730-employee engineering and environmental consulting company based in Chile that was acquired by WSP in July 2017.
“Acting as an extension of the GMTO staff, the WSP construction management team will protect the client’s interests in all areas of project implementation from planning and design through procurement, construction, and commissioning,” said WSP’s Miguel Sanchez, Executive Sponsor of the project.
The GMT project is the work of an international consortium of universities and research institutions. GMTO’s partner institutions are Arizona State University, Astronomy Australia Ltd., The Australian National University, Carnegie Institution for Science, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo – FAPESP, Harvard University, Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, The University of Texas at Austin, University of Arizona, and University of Chicago.