Our Mission

The Office of Advancement and External Affairs is committed to securing the resources to support the research of our scientists and to advance SAOs mission and visibility among the public.

The Search for Life Begins

Astronomy is in a golden age of discovery. Scientists have identified thousands of new planets, orbiting distant stars. Astronomers now face the challenge of studying these newfound worlds for signs of life.

To explore these far-off planets, scientists at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory will employ a powerful new tool, the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The telescope will be built at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. The Giant Magellan combines seven enormous mirrors into one gigantic telescope, 80 feet in diameter with ten times the clarity of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Smithsonian is partnering with the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Australian National University, Astronomy Australia Limited, Harvard University, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, Texas A&M University, the University of Arizona, the University of Chicago and the University of Texas at Austin to build this telescope. Your investment in the Giant Magellan Telescope will help build the technology necessary for these exceptional scientists to revolutionize our view of the universe and our place in it.