In a major breakthrough, India will set up the World's highest gamma-ray telescope in the newly formed Union Territory of Ladakh this year, according to Indian Science Wire. The telescope named Major Atmospheric Cherenkov Experiment Telescope (MACE) is also India's largest gamma-ray telescope. MACE will be situated at the campus of Indian Astronomical Observatory in Hanle, Ladakh approximately 4300 meters above sea level, according to BARC.
According to PIB's press release, the MACE is a project collaboration between four premiere Indian institutes- Baba Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) along with the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL). The telescope will be the world's second-largest gamma-ray telescope and will run on remotely powered by Solar power. Named after Russian scientist Pavel Cherenkov, MACE will study different astrophysical sources in energies of 20 GeV to 10 TeV range.
Reports state that MACE has a 21-meter-diameter dish with 356 mirror panels and over 1,000 cameras to detect very short flashes — lasting just a few nanoseconds — of the Cherenkov radiation. Developed indigenously, the telescope was assembled in Hyderbad and currently, trial runs are being conducted in Hanle. The telescope's unique feature is reportedly its ability to operate in a bright environment, unlike traditional ones that operate only at night.
The telescope's namesake Pavel Cherenkov had discovered that charged particles glow when they pass through a non-conducting medium under certain conditions like the blue glow in underwater nuclear reactors, which is now called the Cherenkov radiation. MACE will reportedly study high-energy processes to search for black holes, compact objects, dark matter and high gravitational fields. The advantage of high altitude is that the Cerenkov radiation due to gamma-rays which normally occur at 10 km altitude above sea level, will be at 5.5 km above ground, almost half the distance from the telescope, hence a smaller facility in such place will be sufficient to achieve what a bigger facility will do closer to sea level.