WAIKOLOA, Hawaii – The Thirty Meter Telescope project – or TMT – announced today that its international group of partners have signed a Master Agreement.
The Master Agreement document establishes a formal agreement defining the project goals, establishing a governance structure and defining member party rights, obligations and benefits.
The TMT Master Agreement was completed today at a meeting of the TMT Collaborative Board in Waikoloa, Hawaii. All representatives of the TMT partner scientific authorities have signed the document. A press released followed soon after. It reads, in part:
|TMT is a unique and vibrant collaboration among universities in the United States with institutions in the nations of Canada, China, India and Japan, and with major funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Uniting these various parties under a Master Agreement stands as a significant accomplishment for TMT as a scientific endeavor with global reach.”The signing of this Master Agreement marks a major milestone in the official commitment to and formalization of this global collaboration, ensuring that the TMT project is on schedule and progressing smoothly,” said Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT Collaborative Board. “We have been working towards this moment for a long time and this is a special day for astronomy’s next-generation observatory.”
The Master Agreement brings together the TMT partners for the purpose of developing, designing, financing, constructing, commissioning, operating and decommissioning a next-generation, thirty meter-class astronomical observatory.
“We are pleased with this vote of confidence from the scientific authorities,” said Edward Stone, Vice Chair of the TMT Board. “Their signing of this Master Agreement is a key endorsement of TMT’s scientific merits as well as the project’s overall implementation plan.”
Looking ahead, the next step will be for the financial authorities of the partners to similarly sign the document and finalize the funding plan.
“With the scientific authorities now all on board, we welcome and look forward to the critical support of the remaining financial authorities in advancing the TMT project,” said Yang.
2013 has been a busy and successful year for TMT, and the signing of the Master Agreement is a major step forward in the creation of a revolutionary astronomical facility.
There is still a legal challenge to the Board of Land and Natural Resource’s final decision granting the permit for TMT to build on the mountain. Six plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal in circuit court. They argue that the land board made the wrong decision in granting the conservation district use permit to the University of Hawaii-Hilo, which manages the astronomy district on the summit, and that the BLNR failed to follow its own criteria for awarding a CDUP.
That is not stopping observatory from moving forward. Construction of TMT is planned to begin in April 2014 and telescope is scheduled to begin scientific operations in 2022 on Mauna Kea.
The media release issued by TMT included quotes from all the partners:
|“ACURA is pleased to be a partner in signing the Master Agreement as Scientific Authority, and is currently engaged with the National Research Council to discuss moving the project forward for funding in Canada. TMT will be a vital resource for research in Canadian universities. It will deepen our knowledge of many of the major issues in astronomy & astrophysics in ways that would not be possible without such a new generation telescope,” said Ernie Seaquist, Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA).“China is excited to be an active partner of such a world-leading facility, which represents a quantum leap for our community. With yet another major step taken, we look forward to many decades of solving the mysteries of the cosmos from Mauna Kea,” said Jun Yan, Director General of the National Astronomical Observatories of China.
”We are delighted to start contribution to make this scientific enterprise a reality. We believe TMT and Subaru will be a good match to explore many key riddles of the Universe,” said Prof. Masahiko Hayashi, the Director General of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.
“TMT-India is extremely happy to participate in the joint signing of the TMT Master Agreement. It is an important milestone in our global endeavor to raise astronomical observations to a new level with the promise of exciting science. With a large number of young students and researchers in our growing academic program, the Indian astronomical community sees the complete realization of the TMT project as an important stimulus to astrophysics research programs in India. We look forward to jointly addressing the next milestone in this program,” said Dr. P. Sreekumar, Director, Indian Institute of Astrophysics.
Major funding has been provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at their home in the San Francisco Bay Area.