The origin of Mexico’s super-telescope

UK and Mexico develop ground breaking telescope
Copyright: iStock/maraqu

The Collaborative Heterodyne Astronomical Receiver for Mexico (CHARM), is the largest investment in scientific infrastructure that Mexico has ever made. As a telescopic instrument, the CHARM project will help Mexican scientist to further their understanding of how stars are born.

The CHARM instrument was developed by a team of experts from the UK. These experts are to help install the instrument which is designed to be integrated into the Large Millimetre Telescope (LMT) in Mexico.

The project was set up by the British government’s Global Challenges Research Fund in order to support and strengthen the research of developing countries. By fostering the scientific talent of these countries, the British government hopes to strengthen its bond with their governments.

CHARM is the first telescope of its kind as it operates using wavelengths of light that are less than a millimetre in length. Such detail allows the telescope to see the molecules that make up interstellar clouds of dust and their effect they have on the lifecycle of a star.

The UK Science and Tech Facilities Council’s RAL Space spearheaded the development of CHARM. RAL are world leaders in high frequency, short wavelength, heterodyne receivers. Their instruments are used in conjunction with board weather satellites. They also have their instruments being used at the ALMA observatory in Chile.

The specialist at RAL Space are to provide essential training to the staff at the LMT in Mexico. Such training has a myriad of transferable skills which could be essential to furthering the careers of these scientists. These skills can be applied to the rapidly growing industry of developing active sensors in Mexico.

The CHARM project is one of the first steps in the knowledge transfer project initiated by the British Government.

Co-investigator from CHARM and the leader of RAL’s Space Millimetre Wave Technology group, Professor Brian Ellison said: “We are delighted to be working with colleagues in Mexico and Manchester to deliver the CHARM instrument. The LMT was one of the observatories involved in imaging the blackhole earlier in the year so we’re all excited to be contributing to this amazing science facility and CHARM represents an important step in developing a great international relationship, making new friends and new scientific discoveries!”

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