After the final €20 million block of funding was agreed by European Science ministers late in 2013 construction has finally begun on the Super Kaleidoscope – the world’s largest – high in the Chilean Andes.
The remote location, chosen for its pollution-free air, cloudless nights and because it seemed like a cool idea at the time has proven a challenge for construction crews working with the 65 meter wide cylinder containing three long quadrilateral mirrors weighing over 320 tonnes each.
‘Everything has to be aligned perfectly’, construction boss Oswald Farage stated. ‘It’s a monumental challenge. And after that we have to ensure the Object Mechanism at the top is loaded properly whilst keeping the compartment sterile and 100% dust free. The engineering and design behind this has taken years, three years alone just to design the shaker mechanism.’
Kaleidographers are hoping that in early 2016 they will turn on the kaleidoscope for the first time, enabling them to look deeper into the symmetry of assorted coloured pieces of plastic than has ever been possible before.
But even this enormous project may be eclipsed if NASA finally gets funding confirmed for its ambitious Space Kaleidoscope currently pencilled in for construction and launch in the mid 2020s. It will be positioned at one of the Lagrange points outside of the Earth’s orbit where it can be pointed continually at the Sun to allow for the first time 24/7 continual kaleidographic data to be available for scientists from around the world.