India launches its first and Asia’s largest liquid mirror telescope


India has launched its first and Asia’s largest liquid mirror telescope at the altitude of 2450 meters at the Devasthal Observatory campus of Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) in north Indian mountainous state of Uttarakhand.
The telescope, atop a mountain, in the Himalayan range, will watch out for supernovae, space debris, asteroids, and celestial objects.
The novel instrument employs a 4-meter-diameter rotating mirror made up of a thin film of liquid mercury to collect and focus light, says the Govt. of India in a press release.
Astronomers from India, Belgium and Canada came together to build the telescope.
The telescope uses a pool of mercury which is a reflective liquid to register images from outer space.
A large-format electronic camera is also installed on the telescope which produces sharp images.
Prof. Paul Hickson (University of British Columbia, Canada), an expert on liquid mirror technology, said that “the rotation of the earth causes the images to drift across the camera, but this motion is compensated electronically by the camera. This mode of operation increases observing efficiency and makes the telescope particularly sensitive to faint and diffuse objects.”
“I am hopeful that this project will attract and motivate several young minds from scientific and engineering backgrounds to take up challenging problems,” said Prof. Dipankar Banerjee, Director, ARIES.