Press Release

Canadian Universities Join Consortium to Build Telescope in Chile

By SpaceRef Editor
March 28, 2011
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Welcoming neighbors to the north for a cosmic project in the south: Seven Canadian universities have joined as partners in the Cerro Chajnantor Atacama Telescope (CCAT), a proposed 25-meter aperture telescope that will be built in Chile. It will become the largest, most precise and highest astronomical facility of its kind in the world.

The Canadian contingent — composed of the University of Waterloo, the University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, McGill University, the University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, and the University of Calgary — signed a memorandum of agreement on March 9, 2011, which has led to a consolidation of the CCAT consortium.

Started as a project between Cornell University and the California Institute of Technology in 2004, that partnership extended to include the University of Colorado at Boulder, the universities of Cologne and Bonn in Germany, and Associated Universities Inc. of Washington, D.C.

Taking advantage of fast-developing detector technology in the submillimeter wavelength electromagnetic domain, CCAT will excel as a surveyor of cosmic origins. The telescope, to be built 18,400 feet above sea level on the Cerro Chajnantor mountain in Chile’s Atacama desert, will give astronomers a new window into the epoch of star and galaxy formation to answer some of the most fundamental questions of cosmology.

With an extremely wide field of view, it will also enable large-scale surveys of the sky and complement the international Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), now under construction. As CCAT discovers new sources, ALMA will follow up with images of those sources in unprecedented detail.

The project was strongly endorsed by the Committee for a Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the U.S. National Research Council, which released its report in August 2010. The Committee also recommended that the National Science Foundation contribute one-third of the construction cost of the facility.

In November 2010, Cornell alumnus Fred Young, of Racine, Wis., donated $11 million to the project. Jeff Zivick joined CCAT as project manager earlier this year.

SpaceRef staff editor.