India Sets up World's First Liquid Mirror Telescope for Astronomy

DEFENCE, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Asia’s largest liquid-mirror telescope named ‘International Liquid-Mirror Telescope’ (ILMT) was set up in India at an altitude of 2450 meters in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. 

The telescope is India’s first liquid-mirror telescope that has been placed at the Devasthal Observatory campus of Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES). It will be operational by end of this year. 

The telescope was established with the objective to identify transient or variable objects such as space debris, asteroids, supernovae and gravitational lenses from space. The objects found by the telescope will be classified based on algorithms of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning.

With this, the Devasthal Observatory now hosts two 4-meter class telescopes – the ILMT and the Devasthal Optical Telescope (DOT). Also, the observatory has 1.3-metre Devasthal Fast Optical Telescope (DFOT) that was launched in 2010.

The telescope detected its first light as it peered into the zenith from the observatory. The telescope has two firsts — it’s the only one to have been developed for astronomy research and is also the only one of its kind to be operational anywhere in the world.

The telescope was built by the astronomers from India, Belgium and Canada with the support of the International Liquid-Mirror Telescope (ILMT).

It has a 4-meter-diameter rotating mirror made up of a thin film of liquid mercury to collect and focus light. Another thin transparent film of mylar protects the mercury from the wind.

 

   Important points for the exam:

  • The ‘International Liquid-Mirror Telescope’ (ILMT) was set up at an altitude of 2450 meters in the Nainital district of Uttarakhand. 
  • It is Asia’s largest liquid-mirror telescope installed at the Devasthal Observatory campus of Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES).
  • The objective of this telescope is to identify transient or variable objects such as space debris, asteroids, supernovae and gravitational lenses from space.
  • The telescope was built by the astronomers from India, Belgium and Canada with the support of the International Liquid-Mirror Telescope (ILMT).
  • It has a 4-meter-diameter rotating mirror made up of a thin film of liquid mercury to collect and focus light. 

   Facts to know:

  • Telescope is a device used to form magnified images of distant objects. 
  • Telescope was discovered by Galileo Galilei.
  • Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) was established in 1954.
  • ARIES functions under the Department of Science and Technology.
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