BRUSSELS: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Belgian counterpart Charles Michel activated the much awaited Asia’s largest ‘general purpose’ optical telescope installed in Devsthal, 60 km from Nainital through ‘Remote Technical Activation’. The telescope was activated during Mr Modi’s ongoing visit to Belgium on March 30. Belgium has financed 7 percent of the project along with technical assistance especially in making the telescope’s lens. Hailing the activation of the optical telescope, Mr Modi said: “Aries project not just a Government to Government initative. It is a win-win collaboration between private sectors as well.” Even the sky is not the limit for the project , he added.
A few days prior to Mr Modi’s visit to Brussels, Wahab Uddin, acting director of Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) had said: “The PM will be activating the telescope along with the Belgian head of state. It would be a great moment for us, the nation and whole of the scientific community.”
A team of scientists and technicians from Belgium have assisted scientists and technicians of ARIES who were involved in making the telescope ready for operation. There are other Indian organisations like the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune and Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru that contributed over Rs 150 crore to the project.
The telescope, which has a diameter of 3.6 meter and weighs 150 tonnes, will be invaluable in several astronomical observations. The telescope was made fully operational in three phases, which include assembly, integration and verification. The ARIES had already completed all the three phases by February 29.
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