MAUNA KEA – The Thirty Meter Telescope is announcing Canada as an official, full partner in the TMT project, one month after the Canadian government pledged millions to the international observatory project. In April, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his country will provide CAD$243.5 million toward the project over the next decade. It has been reported that Canada will build the telescope enclosure and the cutting-edge adaptive optics system.
Canada’s federal Industry Minister James Moore was quoted in the media release.
Canada is proud to be an official partner in this revolutionary facility that has the potential to transform our understanding of the universe. It is a testament to the leadership and expertise of our space industry that Canada will build the telescope’s precision-steel enclosure and provide cutting-edge optics technologies. We look forward to working with our international partners in conducting ground-breaking space research.”Industry Minister James Moore
The announcement also follows news that one of the $1.4 billion observatory’s most recognized opponents, Kaho’okahi Kanuha, filed war crime charges against TMT in Canada. Kanuha is the spokesperson for the Ku Kia’a Mauna group that has been blocking TMT construction crews on the road to the summit.
Canadian officials and TMT appear undaunted by the complaint, as evidenced by the media release issued today.
The TMT project is working toward building a powerful, next-generation astronomical observatory at Maunakea in Hawaii, slated to see ‘first light’ in the 2020s, and the success of the project is reliant upon the continued collaborative efforts from scientific leaders and donors from those other major nations. (‘First light’ is defined as the first use of a telescope to take an astronomical image after it has been constructed.)
When completed, the telescope’s large aperture will collect more light, allowing international astronomers to observe fainter objects, including planets that orbit stars outside our own solar system, and distant stars that formed some 13 billion light years away.
“Canada’s investment and commitment to our project reconfirms the bright future of this great scientific endeavor,” said Henry Yang, Chair of the TIO Board and Chancellor of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “We are realizing a bold vision and have put tremendous effort into this project, which will give us deeper insight into the early years of the universe and a better world for all of us to share and appreciate.”
In addition to Canada’s role in TMT’s construction, other international partners are moving ahead on various other aspects of the project. In India, fabrication of the mirror support system continues. In China, partners are designing the telescope’s fully articulated main science steering mirror system and developing the laser guide star system. In Japan, over 60 special zero thermal-expansion glass mirror blanks for the main mirror have been produced and the telescope structure is being designed in detail. In California, the primary mirror and mirror control system is also in final design. Major funding has been provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.TMT media release