Design of the Giant Magellan Telescope’s all-important upper enclosure awarded to renowned Spanish firm, IDOM

GMT Enclosure and Mount Cross Section. Credit: Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation.

Currently under construction at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, the Giant Magellan Telescope will provide us with some of the most detailed images of the universe – ten times sharper than those taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. While Hubble resides in orbit, the Giant Magellan Telescope will be based on the ground and must therefore withstand some of the more challenging geological aspects of its position in Chile’s Atacama Desert. 

Specifically, the protective enclosure surrounding the telescope’s 8.4-metre primary mirrors (seven of the world’s largest) must be designed to handle earthquakes and extreme weather, with an average of six earthquakes a month and the wind and temperature fluctuations that come with being located in one of the driest deserts in the world.

Fortunately, renowned Spanish engineering and architecture firm, IDOM, has just been awarded the task of designing this 4,800 metric ton upper enclosure. With a contract that will see the complete design delivered by 2024, IDOM’s Advanced Design and Analysis group will take on the technical and practical challenges posed by the enclosure’s unique requirements, utilising the latest technologies as well as environmental design practices to ensure the construction is as sustainable as possible.

To read more about this exciting design and construction development for the Giant Magellan Telescope, please see the official press release.

Along with joint Australian partners ANU, AAL is proud to a founding member of the Giant Magellan Telescope. The telescope is currently being designed, built, and operated by the GMTO Corporation on behalf of a consortium of institutions in the USA, Brazil, Korea, Israel, and Australia (through ANU and AAL).

For more information on the Giant Magellan Telescope, please see the organisation website:

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