The construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope to begin next year
TMT, which will cost up to $1.2 billion, will be the most advanced ground-based observatory in the world, bigger than any ground-based telescope and it will be able to filter all blurs caused by Earth's atmosphere. No doubt it will be the next big thing for all scientists who aim to explore galaxies far, far away. Just the fact that TMT will be 81 times more sensitive than any telescope of its kind speaks volumes.
Scientist from India will play a crucial role in its construction: 15 percent of the 492 mirror segments, each 1.44 meters in size, will be made in India, said Gary Sanders, TMT project manager. So far, 12 Indian companies have been chosen as suppliers of various parts for the telescope. But that's not all: India will provide the complete segment support system of 1,500 actuators and 3,000 edge sensors, and the control software will also be a work of Indian scientists.
The TMT Observatory Corporation, a body that aims to give the world the most powerful telescope, is a partnership between Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), California Institute of Technology (Caltech), University of California, Department of Science and Technology of India, National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. Five countries expect to give the telescope to scientist in 2018.
TMT will have three mirrors and its heart will be Ritchey-Chretien telescope with a 30 meter diameter primary mirror. That mirror consists of 492 smaller mirrors and each of them will be controlled independently. The secondary 3-meter mirror and flat tertiary mirror will complete that astronomers' dream machine.
So, what the scientists will see? For a comparison, let's say that TMT will give images 12 times sharper than legendary Hubble Space Telescope and they will be ten to hundred times clearer than images taken by existing telescopes. Dr. Ellie Ann Arroway would enjoy it, no doubt about it. TMT will offer a view from the ground to the farthest galaxies, and scientists will use it looking for answers about stars formation and trying to understand what happened shortly after the Big Bang.
There's no doubt that the Thirty Meter Telescope will be one of the achievements international scientific community is proud of and it will also made its bigger brother, Hubble Space Telescope, envy. ■