June 30, 2010 – Hilo, Hawaii
Video courtesy Thirty Meter Telescope, voice of Tim Bryan
The following press releases were issued this week, updating the progress of the Thirty Meter Telescope:
UH Board of Regents approve Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea
HONOLULU – At a special meeting held today, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents (BOR) voted to approve the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Project on Mauna Kea with the recommended conditions of the Mauna Kea Management Board (MKMB). TMT is expected to be the world’s most advanced and capable astronomical observatory.
Previously approved by the Mauna Kea Management Board, UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng and UH President M.R.C. Greenwood, and with the Final Environmental Impact Statement formally accepted by Governor Linda Lingle, the project now goes to the Department of Land and Natural Resources for a conservation district use permit.
“The Thirty Meter Telescope will take us on an exciting journey of astronomical discovery, and the benefits that will flow from the project will go far beyond scientific results,” said Greenwood. “University of Hawai‘i scientists will be full participants in all aspects of this TMT journey, while the capital investment and jobs created by the project will boost the state’s economy and provide for local educational and workforce development programs. I know that the university’s important responsibility of ensuring good stewardship of this special site for future generations has been of utmost priority throughout the process, and it will continue to be our focus as we work closely with the community and all stakeholders involved with the management of Mauna Kea.”
“I was very proud to recommend approval of the TMT to President Greenwood and the Board of Regents today,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Rose Tseng. “Before making this recommendation, UH Hilo, our Office of Mauna Kea Management, and the community-based Mauna Kea Management Board worked very hard in a public process to review this project and its potential impacts. TMT officials have truly listened to the public discussions and extensive input from all segments of the community, and I’m confident TMT will live up to its commitments to protect the mountain’s natural and cultural resources and to promote education on the island of Hawai‘i.”
The TMT project is an international partnership among the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the University of California, and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy. The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan joined TMT as a Collaborating Institution in 2008, and the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences joined TMT as an Observer in 2009. Most recently, India announced its decision last week to join the project as an Observer.
Dr. Henry Yang, chancellor of UC Santa Barbara and chair of the TMT Board of Directors, and Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau, president of Caltech, have been the key principals involved in developing relationships between TMT and Hawai‘i. They’ve made many trips to Hawai‘i and have held talk story sessions with numerous individuals, including local schools, labor unions, Native Hawaiian groups and local officials. Their trips resulted in the development of close community relationships from which they learned of the community’s concerns and interests.
“We believe this partnership will benefit the Big Island and Hawai‘i in so many ways, with jobs, the economy, workforce development, education, the environment, culture, and of course, science,” said Yang. “The world-class stature of astronomical education and research of the University of Hawai‘i on all its campuses statewide will benefit, and discoveries made by this telescope will benefit not only the international science community, but all of humankind.”
The TMT project was the first project to undergo the Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan’s project review process in its entirety. The Master Plan is the policy governing the management of the university’s management areas on Mauna Kea. The first step required classifying TMT a major project, followed by the design review process, and finally the project review process. All steps involved public input and review by the MKMB, which voted to recommend approval of the TMT project with conditions to the UH Hilo chancellor, UH president and UH BOR.
For more information about TMT, visit www.tmt.org.
India joins Thirty Meter Telescope
The Minister of Science and Technology of India, Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, announced today the decision of India to join the Thirty Meter Telescope Project (TMT) as an Observer. TMT is the next-generation astronomical observatory that is scheduled to begin scientific operations in 2018 on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
Observer status is the first step in becoming a full partner in TMT and participating in the engineering development and scientific use of what will be the world’s most advanced and capable astronomical observatory.
“India is well recognized and respected as one of the top-ranking countries in the field of basic research,” said Henry Yang, chairman of the TMT board and Chancellor of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “As part of TMT, India will be an integral part of the next generation of astronomical research. We welcome their collaboration on this exciting project.”
“The government and people of India recognize the importance of embarking on world-class, international science collaborations,” said Thirumalachari Ramasami, Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, during a ceremony in Washington. “We believe the Thirty Meter Telescope will enable us to continue and expand our role as an international leader in technology development and fundamental research.”
“The TMT and its partners are extremely pleased that India has selected TMT as their next-generation astronomical research project,” said Edward Stone vice chair of the TMT board and Caltech’s Morrisroe Professor of Physics. “As an Observer, we can now begin exploring the specific areas where India can contribute to the project and look forward to their becoming a full partner with a formal agreement and commitment for funding.”
“We look forward to working with India on the international Thirty Meter Telescope Project,” said Professor Ray Carlberg, the Canadian Large Optical Telescope project director and a TMT board member. “By broadening the TMT partnership, we bring greater expertise and the potential for additional government endorsement to the table, which will certainly benefit the entire project.”
The TMT project plans to begin work on-site late next year and achieve first light in 2018, at which time it will be the first of the next generation of ground-based optical observatories. This revolutionary telescope will integrate the latest innovations in precision control, segmented mirror design, and adaptive optics to correct for the blurring effect of Earth’s atmosphere.
Building on the success of the twin Keck telescopes, the core technology of TMT will be a 30-meter segmented primary mirror. This will give TMT nine times the collecting area of today’s largest optical telescopes and three times sharper images.
The TMT has begun full-scale polishing of the 1.4-meter mirror blanks that will make up the primary mirror. TMT also has developed many of the essential prototype components for the telescope, including key adaptive optics technologies and the support and control elements for the 492 mirror segments.
The TMT project has completed its $77 million design development phase with primary financial support of $50 million from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and $22 million from Canada. The project has now entered the early construction phase thanks to an additional $200 million pledge from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Caltech and the University of California have agreed to raise matching funds of $50 million to bring the construction total to $300 million, and the Canadian partners propose to supply the enclosure, the telescope structure, and the first light adaptive optics.
The TMT project is an international partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy. The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) joined TMT as a Collaborating Institution in 2008. The National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences joined TMT as an Observer in 2009.