India’s First Liquid Mirror Telescope | 04 Jun 2022

Why in News?

Recently, Devasthal Observatory campus owned by Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital in Uttarakhand has set-up the International Liquid-Mirror Telescope (ILMT).

What are the Key Highlights about ILMT?

  • It has become the world's first Liquid-Mirror Telescope (LMT) to be commissioned for astronomy and also one of its kind to be operational anywhere in the world.
  • Asteroids, supernovae, space debris and all other celestial objects will be observed using ILMT from an altitude of 2,450 metres in the Himalayas.
  • Previously built telescopes either tracked satellites or were deployed for military purposes.
  • ILMT will be the third telescope facility to come up at Devasthal.
    • Devasthal is one of the world’s original sites for obtaining astronomical observations.
    • Devasthal Optical Telescope (DOT) and Devasthal Fast Optical Telescope (DFOT) are the other two telescope facilities at Devasthal.
  • In October 2022, full-scale scientific operations of ILMT will be started.
  • It will be working along with India’s largest operating Devasthal Optical Telescope (DOT).
  • The countries involved in ILMT’s development are India, Belgium, Canada, Poland and Uzbekistan.

How is LMT Different from Conventional Telescope?

  • A LMT is a stationary telescope whereas a conventional telescope moves along the direction of the object of interest in the sky.
  • A LMT will survey and capture any and all possible celestial objects such as stars, galaxies, supernovae explosions, asteroids and even space debris. However, a conventional captures just a piece of sky at a given point of time.
  • LMT comprises mirrors with a reflective liquid (ILMT has mercury as reflective liquid). On the other hand, a conventional telescope uses highly-polished glass mirrors.
  • While ILMT will be capturing images of the sky on all nights, conventional telescopes observe specific objects in the sky for fixed hours only.

What is the Significance of ILMT?

  • Enormous amount of data (10-15 GB/night) will be generated. This will be significant for the global scientific communities.
  • Latest computational tools, like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and big data analytics will be deployed for screening, processing and analyzing the data.
  • Selected data can be used as a base data for carrying out further focused research using spectrographs, near-Infrared spectrograph mounted on the in-house DOT.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question

Q. In the context of modern scientific research, consider the following statements about ‘IceCube’, a particle detector located at South Pole, which was recently in the news: (2015)

  1. It is the world’s largest neutrino detector, encompassing a cubic kilometre of ice.
  2. It is a powerful telescope to search for dark matter.
  3. It is buried deep in the ice.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (d)


  • IceCube Neutrino Observatory is buried deep inside Antarctic ice and is spread over a cubic kilometre. Hence, statements 1 and 3 are correct.
  • Weakly Interacting Massive Particle (WIMP) dark matter could be gravitationally captured by massive objects like the Sun and accumulate in the core of the Sun.
  • With such high density of these particles, they annihilate each other at a significant rate. The products of this annihilation decay into neutrinos, which could be observed by IceCube as an excess of neutrinos from the direction of the Sun.
  • IceCube was built specifically to identify and track high-energy neutrinos. Hence, statement 2 is correct.
  • The National Science Foundation (a US agency that supports fundamental research) provided the primary funding for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, with assistance from partner funding agencies around the world.
  • Therefore, option (d) is the correct answer.

Source: IE