The Monster Telescope Funded by the Military

In a hotel room in Larkspur California, I was hoping it would be warm, but it’s only mild. Ten miles from here there was a rare snowfall, about an inch fell and it is all over the local news from San Francisco. I read today about a monster telescope that is almost finished being built on the top of a 15,000 foot volcano called Sierra Negra in the central state of Puebla, Mexico.

The project has been underway for many years, I know an astronomer from UMass who has been down here, and the $150 million project has generated some controversy. Mainly because it is funded by the U.S. Military as well as the Mexican government. The telescope looks like an enormous satellite dish, and building it has been a struggle.

Hundreds of local villagers were hired to use their own compact cars to bring up the material including 13,000 tons of concrete, all the way up the winding road to the top. Sometimes cars wouldn’t make it, so they used mules. The project has brought jobs to this poor area, but there are critics who bristle at the military’s involvement. “They may want to use the antennas for space survelliance, said one UMass scientist. “It is a way to figure out what everybody is doing up there.”