Japanese telescope to be sent to Chile’s Atacama Observatory

SANTIAGO/TOKYO – A new infrared telescope developed by the University of Tokyo will be set up at Chile’s Atacama Observatory – known as the world’s highest altitude observatory.

The ground-based telescope measures 6½ meters in diameter and 15 meters in height, and is a high-level telescope in the world for observing infrared rays from outer space.

The telescope was unveiled last week at a factory in Harima, Hyogo Prefecture, where it was assembled, the Japan News reported.

The observatory is located at the summit of 5,640-meter Mt. Chajnantor. Because it is located at such high altitude, where there is less infrared-absorbing moisture, researchers are able to observe infrared rays at wavelengths that would otherwise be impossible to observe on the ground.

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At the location, the new telescope will be able to observe infrared rays coming from between eight and 13 billion light years away from the Earth – offering hope about discovering galaxy formations.

Infrared telescopes are also able to observe space dust, meaning researchers will also study the process of how this matter goes on to form planets.

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The University of Tokyo team that developed the telescope is scheduled to transport it from Japan to Chile this summer, with the aim of starting observations in the first half of 2019.