June 6, 2020

21.01.10-Joint U.S.-Mexico Telescope to Survey the Infrared Sky.

Construction has begun on a telescope that will scan a little understood part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Last summer, optical engineers at the University of Arizona in Tucson began the casting process for the 6.5 meter mirror that will ultimately be part of the San Pedro Martir Telescope in the Mexican observatory complex of the same name. Located in Baja, California, the site will offer pristine views of the northern and much of the southern skies.  The mirror is being figured for a very fast, f/1.4 focal ratio for a very special purpose; to complete the most comprehensive survey of the infrared sky. When completed in 2017, the San Pedro Martir Telescope will survey the infrared sky with unprecedented accuracy, going 100 to 500 times fainter than the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) completed in 2004. This is part of the Synoptic All-Sky Infrared Imaging Survey (SASIR) and will open up a new realm of infrared astronomy. Among the goodies expected to be uncovered are distant quasars, super massive black holes, and perhaps nearby faint red dwarf stars in our own solar neighborhood. For example, the jury is still out on whether or not our own Sun might have a faint, small companion on a long term orbit… now that discovery would be  would be some serious news!