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India to set up Asia's largest telescope in Himalayas in 2012

NEW DELHI, August 6 (RIA Novosti) - A vast telescope to be made by Russian and Belgian firms will be installed in India's Himalayas in 2012, the director of an Indian research institute said Monday.

Asia's largest telescope "will enable us to see four to five times deeper into space than before, and receive high-quality images," said Professor Ram Sagal of the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences.

An optical glass plant in Lytkarino, near Moscow, will make a mirror for the telescope 3.6 meters wide, and Belgian partners will assemble the unit and test it before sending it to India.

The Belgium government has allocated 2 million euros ($2.7 million) for project, about 10% of the telescope's total cost, and Russia is also considering contributing one million euros.

Sagar said the participants in the project would be given access to space research in proportion to their contributions.

The institute's director said India's favorable geographical position made it possible to observe a substantial portion of space, and cited the low cost of taking images from telescopes in India as an advantage.

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