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Joe Stech for AWS Community Builders

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Notes from AWS re:Invent 2022: the Giant Magellan Telescope

Most of the sessions I attended at re:Invent this year were highly technical, but I also attended some broader science talks, and this talk by Giant Magellan President Dr. Robert Shelton was one of them.

Apparently in the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth, a new telescope is being built: the Giant Magellan Telescope. It's going to be 22 stories tall, the entire building will rotate, and will be up to 200 times more powerful than existing research telescopes.

The telescope's president was presenting at AWS because AWS provides the compute required to simulate the telescope's building envelope. The telescope will require precise environmental controls, and the Atacama Desert is a place with wild temperature swings. With AWS-based simulation, the Giant Magellan project can ensure that their building designs will support the environmental controls required by telescope and the extraordinarily sophisticated instrumentation that can be attached to the telescope!

Dr. Shelton spoke about how the telescope will have the capability to resolve atmospheric composition of exoplanets at the level required to detect extraterrestrial life, finally answering the age-old question: are we alone in the universe?

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