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The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope — built with our steel

Good news for astronomy enthusiasts: the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which will be located in Chile, is currently being built with ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products’ steel plates produced in Gijón, Spain. Once in service, this powerful telescope, equipped with a 3.2-billion-pixel camera, will make a survey of the universe in 3D.

10 years studying the Universe

Thanks to its dry atmosphere, Chile has become the site of choice for many astronomy observatories with 70% of the world’s astronomical infrastructure planned to be in the country by the 2020s.

This is where the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), developed by the AURA (Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy), is currently under construction. The project has been funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and aims to produce the deepest, widest, image of the Universe night after night for 10 years.

The LSST uses a three-mirror design, which offers a wide field of view and can survey the entire sky in only three nights. It will deliver sharp images taken by a 3.2-billion-pixel camera, the largest digital camera ever constructed.

A robust structure, made with our steel

In 2014, a Spanish consortium formed by ASTURFEITO and GHESA won the offer for the design construction and testing of the Telescope Mount Assembly.

ArcelorMittal Europe – Flat Products’ mill in Gijón supplied customer Asturfeito with steel plates for the construction of the telescope’s structure. Our plates in grade S355J2 + N provide the necessary toughness for an application such as this one.

The competitiveness of our offer in terms of price and technical requirements convinced Asturfeito to opt for our steel solutions. Regarding logistics, the location of our mill was an added benefit, due to its proximity with the customer’s facility (also in the region of Asturias).

Asturfeito fully assembled the LSST in its production site and carried out control and performance tests in collaboration with GHESA. The telescope will be disassembled and the parts will be transported from the port of Avilés to Chile this autumn, before being installed at 2,600 metres of altitude in Cerro Pachón. LSST will see “first light” with a commissioning camera in August of 2020 and begin the ten-year full science survey in October of 2022.

About Asturfeito

Our client Asturfeito is a leading company in the engineering, manufacturing and commissioning of capital goods with more than 20 years of experience in the scientific, nuclear, petrochemical, renewable energy, industrial and steel industries. The company currently employs 220 people and has three production sites in Asturias: in Tabaza, in the Principality of Asturias Business Park (PEPA), very close to the port of Avilés (facilities where the skeleton of the telescope has been built), and in Silvota.

Fact & figures about the LSST

  • 16 metre-diameter
  • 375 tonnes
  • 8.4-m mirror, the width of a singles tennis court
  • 3,200-megapixel camera
  • Each image the size of 40 full moons
  • 37 billion stars and galaxies
  • 10-year survey of the sky
  • 10 million alerts, 1,000 pairs of exposures
  • 15 Terabytes of data... every night