STEPHEN & DONNA O'MEARA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY STEPHEN & DONNA O'MEARA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The $80 million Smithsonian Submillimeter Array is made up of eight 20-foot antennas that function as one giant telescope, discerning images at submillimeter wavelengths. The new telescope will allow astronomers to see new solar systems forming around distant stars. Astronomers also plan to use the new imaging telescope to monitor the weather on Mars and other planets and moons, study dusty areas of the galaxy where stars form, and study newborn stars to try to learn how plants are created. Working together, those antennas will be able to detect objects 30 times smaller than can be seen with either of the earlier generation submillimeter telescopes on Mauna Kea, which are the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope.
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