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The LSST, or the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is a large survey telescope being constructed in northern Chile. When operational in 2015, it will be the widest, fastest, deepest eye of the new digital age, providing timelapse digital imaging across the entire night sky every three days, mapping the structure of our dynamic universe in three dimensions and exploring the nature of dark matter and dark energy. LSST hit a major milestone in its construction when the primary mirror blank was recently created. Project astronomers say the single-piece primary and tertiary mirror blank cast for the LSST is “perfect.”
The 51,900 pound (23,540 kg) mirror blank was fired in the oven at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror lab in Tucson, Arizona. It consists of an outer 27.5-foot diameter (8.4-meter) primary mirror and an inner 16.5-foot (5-meter) third mirror cast in one mold. It is the first time a combined primary and tertiary mirror has been produced on such a large scale.
LSST will have three large mirrors to give crisp images over a the largest field of view that will be available. The two largest of these mirrors are concentric and fit neatly onto a single mirror blank.
LSST was recently the recipient of two large gifts: $20 million from the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, and $10 million from Bill Gates. The finished mirror is scheduled to be delivered in 2012.
News Source: LSST press release