Eyes on the sky

A roster of new and proposed telescopes

Full name: The European Extremely Large Telescope
Mirror: 42 meters diameter
Timeline: Projected to open in 2018
Projected cost: €1 billion
Basic mission: largest ground-based optical/near-infrared telescope
Location: Possible sites in Chile, Argentina, Canary Islands, Morocco
Online: E-ELT Homepage – ESA

Full name: Giant Magellan Telescope
Mirror: 24.5 m
Timeline: 2018 completion
Basic mission: Next-generation telescope; large collecting area and high image quality
Location: Las Campanas Observatory in Chile
Online: GMT Homepage

Full name: Thirty Meter Telescope
Mirror: 30 m
Timeline: Expected to start operation in 2017
Basic mission: Great view of early universe; work with the planned James Webb Space Telescope
Online: Thirty Meter Telescope Homepage

Full name: Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System
Mirror: 1.8 m each
Timeline: One of four planned systems is built
Projected cost: $100 million
Basic mission: 1.4-gigapexel cameras to image entire sky, find “killer” asteroids
Location: Pan-STARRS 1 sits atop Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui
Online: Pan-STARRS Homepage

Full name: Large Synoptic Survey Telescope
Mirror: 8.4-meter mirror, 3.2 gigapixel camera
Timeline: Start operation 2014
Basic mission: Speed: rapidly scan for asteroids and supernovas
Location: Projected for a Chilean mountaintop
Online: LSST Homepage

Full name: Gaia
Timeline: 2011 launch
Basic mission: Provide 3-D map of galaxy’s stars
Location: Orbit the sun at L2
Online: Gaia Homepage – ESA

Full name: The James Webb Space Telescope
Mirror: 6.5 m
Timeline: Launch set for 2013
Projected cost: $3.5 billion (could change as fiscal year 2010 budget is finalized)
Basic mission: Use infrared wavelengths to image oldest, most distant objects
Location: This space-based telescope will orbit the sun
Online: JWST Homepage – NASA

Full name: Advanced Technology Solar Telescope
Mirror: 4-meter aperture
Timeline: Possibly start construction 2010
Basic mission: Study short-lived features of the sun at a fine scale
Location: Targeted for Haleakala on Maui
Online: ATST Homepage

Full name: Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array
Mirror: 66 radio antennas will work together
Timeline: Under construction; begin operations 2012
Basic mission: Probe the very first stars and galaxies, and directly image planets beyond the solar system
Location: Atacama Desert in Chile
Online: ALMA Observatory

Full name: Laser Interferometer Space Antenna
Mirror: Three spacecraft create a 5-million-km interferometer
Timeline: Part of the European Space Agency Cosmic Vision 2015–2025
Basic mission: Detect and observe gravitational waves (as from black holes)
Location: Orbit the sun
Online: LISA Homepage – NASA