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May 26, 2019

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The circle closes

23/08/2006

The segments have come together. They are here now, all 36 of them together with the 6 spares. They were delivered in consignments of six because that is how many specially designed packing cases were produced to keep them safe during transport. The cases were re-used a total of seven times to transport all of the mirrors to the site.

It all started in May 2004. Now, with their delivery to the telescope, the circle of segments for the Gran Telescopio CANARIAS' primary mirror is closed.

But that is not all. We have completed the first tests on the telescope's movement using the control system. The instrument rotators have been installed. Next, once this new phase of testing is over, we will begin installing the optical system. Everything is starting to come together.

Six of the primary mirror segments will be chosen as the protagonists for calibration between first tests, using stellar light (technical first light), and "Day One".

As the name suggests, "First Light" refers to the first observations carried out by the telescope which will be used to start calibrating it. This will be followed by commissioning, a period of adjustment of the telescope and the first two scientific instruments, which can last around a year. "Day One" is the date after testing on which the telescope will commence scientific activities.

On that day the circle will truly be closed.

Natalia R. Zelman

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