East Hawaii News

India Joins as a Partner in the TMT Project

December 2, 2014, 4:47 PM HST
* Updated December 2, 4:50 PM
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Thirty Meter Telescope officials announced Tuesday that Indian government officials signed documents to establish the country as a full partner in the Thirty Meter Telescope project.

With an international collaboration of institutions in the United States, Canada, Japan, India, and China, the TMT project is working towards building a powerful, next-generation astronomical observatory on Mauna Kea.

Secretary of India’s Department of Science and Technology, K Vijay Raghaven, signed the documents that change India’s formal relationship from Associate, to Member of the TMT International Observatory.

TIO, is the nonprofit limited liability company that was founded in May 2014 that will carry out the construction and operation phases of the TMT project.

The observatory is slated to see first light in the 2020s. When the project is completed, astronomers will have the opportunity to study objects in our solar system, as well as stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies..

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“It gives us great pleasure to announce that the Department of Science and Technology, the financial authority of India-TMT, has executed all the relevant documents to become a full members in the TMT International Observatory,” said Eswar Reddy, Programme Director of TMT-India, a TMT Board Member and an Associated Professor at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics.

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India isn’t the only partner in the project excited about their involvement.

“The official signing today with India’s investment reassures the success of TMT,” said Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT International Observatory Board and Chancellor of the University of California Santa Barbara. “India’s contributions in the areas of software systems, segment production and the production of the very high precision sensors and actuators that make the primary mirror possible are key to the project.” Yang added that, “Indian astronomers have also played an important role in the continuing development of the science case for the facility.”

Vice-Chair of the TIO Board of Governors and Representative of the TMT project in Japan, Masanori Iye, said that “The formal participation of India is most welcome and essential not just in accomplishing the Asian contributions to the TMT project, but to enhance science collaborations for the next generation.”

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A ground blessing ceremony occurred in October and construction work including on-site preparation and grading at Mauna Kea.

Additional progress offsite has also been made in 2014, including continued fabrication of the mirror support system in India, design of the telescopes fully articulated main science steering mirror system in China, along with the development of the laser guide star system. Japan has been working hard in producing over sixty special zero thermal-expansion glass mirror banks for the main mirror and continues to design the telescope structure in detail. The adaptive optics facility is also in its final design. The enclosed design has been completed and it could be Canada’s contribution if they become a full member of TIO. The primary mirror and mirror control system is in final design in California.

Through the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, TMT has had the ability to advance to the stage of development it is currently at. The foundation has spent $141 to date funding the design, development, and construction phases of TMT.

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