GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

India has commissioned a unique liquid-mirror telescope atop a mountain in the Himalayan range in Uttarakhand that will keep a watch on the overhead sky to identify transient or variable objects such space debris, asteroids, supernovae and gravitational lenses. It is the country’s first and the Asia’s largest liquid-mirror telescope. The telescope will help in surveying the sky, making it possible to observe several galaxies and other astronomical sources just by staring at the strip of sky that passes overhead.

More about telescope

  1. The telescope, built by astronomers from India, Belgium and Canada, is located at an altitude of 2450 metres at the Devasthal Observatory campus of Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), in Nainital district, Uttarakhand.
  2. ARIES, referring to new facilities at Devasthal Observatory that now hosts two four-meter class telescopes – the International Liquid-Mirror Telescope (ILMT) and the Devasthal Optical Telescope (DOT).
  3. Both are the largest aperture telescopes available in the country. The 3.6 metre DOT, with the availability of sophisticated back-end instruments, will allow rapid follow-up observations of the newly-detected transient sources with the adjacent ILMT.
  4. Application of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) algorithms will also be implemented for classifying the objects observed with the ILMT.
  5. The ILMT will produce about 10 GB of data every night, which will be quickly analyzed to reveal variable and transient stellar sources.

How it will work

  1. The scientists from the three countries (India, Belgium and Canada) spun a pool of mercury which is a reflective liquid, so that the surface curved into a parabolic shape which is ideal for focusing light.
  2. A thin transparent film of mylar protects the mercury from wind. The reflected light passes through a sophisticated multi-lens optical corrector that produces sharp images over a wide field of view. A large-format electronic camera located at the focus records the images.