Mexico is one of two countries on a short list for the construction of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), a project that will be the world’s largest and most sensitive, ground-based gamma-ray observatory.
Two sites are to be selected, one in the northern hemisphere and a second, larger installation in the south. The latter will consist of about 100 Cherenkov telescopes.
BC could be site of new telescope project
Cherenkov Telescope Array would complement Puebla facility
Mexico is already the site of the High-Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory (HAWC) situated on a mountain in Puebla. It went into full operation last month.
The new observatory will complement HAWC, said the director of the Institute of Astronomy at the National Autonomous University (UNAM). The latter continuously observes a large part of the sky while the CTA observes smaller regions at a higher resolution, said William Lee Alardin.
The two locations under consideration for the CTA in the northern hemisphere are La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, and San Pedro Mártir in Baja California, already the site of the National Astronomical Observatory, operated by UNAM. Southern hemisphere sites in the running are in Chile and Namibia.
Requirements are clear and cloudless skies, research infrastructure and a large flat piece of land on which to erect dozens of telescopes.
The choice between Mexico and Spain will be made in November and construction, expected to take five years, will begin next year.
Twenty-nine countries and 1,000 scientists and engineers are involved in the CTA project.
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