Monday, August 27, 2012

The theft of a million dollars in the Large Millimeter Telescope in Mexico

Sometimes the study and observation of the universe is very Earthlings encounter problems, as with the Large Millimeter Telescope located on top of an extinct volcano at 4580 meters altitude in Puebla, east of Mexico. Recently the Attorney (prosecutor) General's Office (PGR) arrested two youths who are accused of stealing between 126 and 128 subpanels aluminum and nickel that would be installed on the device.

This telescope is designed to track the footprints of the creation of the universe and also to study the formation of galaxies. It is one of the most important scientific projects in Latin America, but so far has gone through several problems which delay their operation. The newest subpanels’ theft, which were recovered. So far it is not known for whom stole wanted, nor whether the two arrested are solely responsible for the crime.

And is that the material, valued at about U.S. $ 928,000, was designed especially for the large telescope, ie it is not used parts in other functions. What is known is that the perpetrators stole the material from the cellar of the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE), which together with the University of Massachusetts is responsible for operating the device.

Then, hid in a house Tonantzintla, a rural community of Puebla.

Money, the problem
"It depends critically on the support we receive for 2012. We are requesting the money to complete the surface of the telescope that year" Alberto Carramiñana, director INAOE Subpanels theft is another link in the chain of difficulties faced by the telescope.

The unit should be operational from 2010, but funding cuts delayed their conclusion that now is expected to occur between 2012 and 2013, told BBC Carramiñana Alberto Alonso, director of the Institute. "It depends critically on the support we receive for 2012. We are asking for the money to complete the surface of the telescope that year, "says Carramiñana.

In the fiscal budget for next year are not covered for the Gran Telescopio resources, which if not corrected would endanger the entire project, recognizes the scientist. The INAOE requires annual public financing of about U.S. $ 6.5 million, but received only $ 2.8 million. Lack of money has left traces. The telescope was completed in 2006, but it was not until June of this year that could make the first observations.

Big Bang

Mexican astronomers and made the first observations with the Large Millimeter Telescope.  When in full operation, the Large Millimeter Telescope will have a satellite dish diameter of 50 meters, which will be the largest of its kind in the world. So far the work surface is 30 meters, which allowed to do and the first tests.
According to the radio telescope design absorb waves reaching space in the frequency of one to four millimeters, allowing details of events distant in time as the Big Bang, which would have created the universe. The largest unit operating in these frequencies has an antenna of 30 meters and is located in Iran.

With the Mexican radio telescope is possible to study the formation of galaxies, planets, stars and the solar system, explains Carramiñana. "We began to make observations demonstration in June. Later this year we want to comment more ambitious and next year they get juice from the scientific point of view, "he says.

The Mexican radio telescope was built on the summit of Sierra Negra volcano, one of the highest mountains of Mexico. The site was chosen because the water vapors level in the zone is low, which allows better uptake of the millimeter waves coming from space. It says INAOE director, one of the sites more clearly for astronomical observations in the region.

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