GMTelescope
The Giant Magellan Telescope will be functional in 2022.Twitter/UTAustin

The world's largest optical telescope called the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) will be built on a mountaintop in Chile, South America. The telescope with a diameter of 25 meters will be functional from 2022.

After a ceremony, bulldozers would soon begin leveling a road next year for the 2,516 metre summit telescope which will weigh 1,100 tons, Arstechnica reported.

"We are ready. We are going to be aggressive on construction," said Patrick McCarthy, Interim president of the GMT organisation, told the website from the site in Chile.

Until now, the world's biggest telescope stands on top of a volcanic peak off the coast of Africa. The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) is the largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere. 

The GMT works in partnerships with various universities across the world.

With the advent of a new generation of telescopes, it could offer scientist and historians the chance to learn about dark matter and dark energy. Astronomers could look deeper into the history of universes and galaxies.

The 200 workers on the difficult mountain terrain would lay the instrument's foundation and complete the dome of the telescope by 2020. Only then will they be able to install the telescope by 2022. However this still remains a far-fetched dream, Arstechnica said.

The estimated cost of building the telescope is around $1.05 billion.

Work has already started on the most critical and important aspect of the telescope—its mirrors.

According to the Arstechnica report, it takes six years to order materials and get a single mirror polished. The work is currently in progress at the University of Arizona's Richard F Mirror lab.
The mirrors are in various stages of grinding and cooling.

The director of GMT said he was hopeful the telescope can begin operations with four mirrors and the anticipated date of 2022 looked realistic to him, as published in the website's report.

The GMT will have a resolving power 10 times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope, Arstechnica reported.

Two other telescopes are currently under production. An international consortium plans to build a 30 metre telescope in Hawaii. Another one, to be built by European Southern Observatory is already underway in Chile and would measure 39 metres across, Arstechnica reported.

The International Consortium telescope to be based out of Hawaii is already entangled in controversy. In April this year, protestors blocked vehicles from reaching the summit. Since then the astronomers have been in a dispute with the protestors.

On the other hand, the European Southern Observatory telescope is expected to be operational by 2024, two years after GMT opens. 

Despite the sense of competitiveness, the astronomy community will benefit from these telescopes when they are in place.

Then there will be telescopes in both hemispheres, which is important to study the universe. None of the telescopes have been given an official name so far.