Short Note : Thirty Meter Telescope project

Published: July 11, 2019

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project is a proposed astronomical telescope that is planned to be located on the Mauna Kea island in the US Hawaiian Territory.

What is TMT?

  • The TMT is an extremely large telescope (ELT). An ELT has an optical telescope who has a primary mirror with an aperture of 20-100 meters.
  • While the technology to build a mirror larger than 8.4 meters does not exist, fabricators construct ELTs using either smaller mirrors that create one large mirror.
  • The TMT was designed by the researchers at the University of California and Caltech which consists of 492 segmented mirrors with nine times the power of the previous Keck telescope.
  • Compared with the largest existing visible-light telescope in the world, it would be three times as wide, with nine times more area.
  • The TMT is designed for near-ultraviolet to mid-infrared (0.31 to 28 ?m wavelengths) observations, featuring adaptive optics to assist in correcting image blur.
  • Along with the United States, several other countries like China, India, and Japan are also participants of the project.

Why Mauna Kea?

  • Due to its favorable light-gathering power and the optimal observing conditions at Mauna Kea, the TMT would enable astronomers to conduct research which is infeasible with current instruments.
  • The elevation at Mauna Kea would make the TMT the highest altitude ELTs.
  • The summit above the clouds will provide a clear view of the sky with very little air and light pollution.
  • Astronomers will be able to reach back 13 billion years to answer fundamental questions about the advent of the universe.

What is the controversy?

Local Hawaiians consider the Mauna Kea consider them as a sacred site and believe the construction will desecrate the location. However, the construction is proceeding as per the plan.

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