Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hawaii's Thirty-Meter Telescope

Is this a good idea?

"Mammoth Telescope to Be Built in Hawaii"


Betsy Mason

July 21st, 2009


Hawaii beat out Chile to become the site of the Thirty-Meter Telescope, which is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

The giant telescope will have a single primary mirror that measures 30 meters across and is made up of 492 segments, giving it nine times more collecting surface than the the biggest telescopes on Earth today.

The Thirty-Meter Telescope will surpass even the Hubble Space Telescope in some ways, giving scientists a new view of some of the oldest stars and galaxies in the universe, as well as planets orbiting nearby stars.

Mauna Kea in Hawaii, the site of the Keck and Subaru telescopes, was among five candidate sites selected based on a global satellite assessment of atmosphere and climate variables. After further studies, Hawaii and Cerro Amazones in Chile rose to the top of the list.

"In the final analysis, the board selected Mauna Kea as the site for TMT," Edward Stone, Caltech physicist and vice chairman of the TMT board, said in a press release Tuesday. "The atmospheric conditions, low average temperatures, and very low humidity will open an exciting new discovery space using adaptive optics and infrared observations."

The project still needs to be approved by the the state and $100 million still needs to be raised for construction. The rest of the $300 million estimated cost will come from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The telescope project is the joint venture of Caltech, the University of California and a group of Canadian Universities called ACURA.

"We are excited about the prospect of being the first of the next generation of extremely large telescopes," said Professor Ray Carlberg, the Canadian Large Optical Telescope project director and a TMT board member.

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