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Edwina Hart AM visits Glyndŵr University research centre


30 June 2011

Welsh Government Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science Edwina Hart visited a Glyndŵr University research centre to mark the completion of a milestone in a project to create prototype mirrors for the world’s largest telescope.

A team of scientists at Optic Glyndŵr, Glyndŵr University’s research hub in St Asaph, have finished constructing and testing one of seven prototype mirrors for the European Extra Large Telescope, the E-ELT.

The reference piece – or Master Spherical Segment - will be used to test the accuracy of six remaining segments as the university looks to complete targets set by the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), which is funding the project.

If the university successfully meets ESO’s specifications on all of the segments it will be able to compete for a contract for the construction of all 1148 of the telescope’s segmented mirrors.

Edwina Hart toured the laboratories where the work is being carried out, as well as meeting the scientists who are working on the project.

She said: “"The technological developments which the research centre is making are hugely innovative and they're very creative in the way they're going about their business. Their work on the telescope is good not just for the university but for the whole of Wales - and the connections which they're making will benefit Wales greatly.

“The project is an excellent example of positive collaboration between higher education and industry which should be mirrored across Wales."

Phil Harris, CEO of OpTIC Glyndŵr, said: “Completion of the Master Spherical Segment is the second milestone we’ve reached this year, following construction of an optical testing tower.

“We have scientists who are world class in their field working at the centre and I’m immensely proud of their achievements so far. As well as Edwina Hart, we have also received visits from David Cameron and Peter Hain to St Asaph, which shows the significant potential economic benefit of the project to the Optic Industry in the North Wales region.”

The university has been awarded a €5m (£4.5m) contract from the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) to build the prototype mirrors.

The work is part of a collaboration between Glyndŵr University, University College London and Cranfield University.
The €1 billion E-ELT will be 30 times more sensitive than current optical telescopes and have a diameter of 42m when it is launched, currently estimated to be 2018.

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