Blazing the Trail for a Binocular Telescope: Pathfinder Arrives at Mt. Graham

February 26, 2013

The mere fact that the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona features two 8,4 meter diameter mirrors on a single mount is impressive enough. But this telescope is designed to be so much more: With the help of the LINC-NIRVANA instrument currently being assembled at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), the two mirrors will be linked to act like a single, much larger telescope. The resulting "interferometer" will be able to image details that would otherwise only be accessible with a (single) telescope with a 23-meter mirror.

The technology used by LINC-NIRVANA is cutting-edge. In order to accelerate the final deployment of this complex instrument, the scientists and engineers working on the project have developed the Pathfinder experiment, which will test key aspects of LINC-NIRVANA at the LBT. Pathfinder was constructed in an intensive development program, and left the MPIA in mid-February. On February 20, Pathfinder arrived at its final destination at the LBT site in eastern Arizona. Over the next months, the LINC-NIRVANA team will install Pathfinder and run the necessary experiments to blaze the trail for their unique interferometric imager.

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