When it comes to space, India never lagged behind and riding high on its recent successful Mars mission “Mangalyaan”, moved forward to join the global club of five nations to build the ambitious next-generation Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) with an estimated cost of $1.47 billion (Rs.14,300 crore).
Joining other big four nations — the US, Canada, Japan and China — the gigantic telescope project was kicked off in Hawaii this week to be completed by 2020 and enable the astronomers with huge potential to observe the impending set backs from the universe, especially the meteoroids.
The government had given its approval last month and India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) will participate in it with bearing 10% of the cost in cash and kind at around Rs.1,300 crore, that enables 30 observing nights for Indian scientists in a year.
The partnership helps India in primary mirror segment figuring and polishing, mirror support system and edge sensor assembly and testing, software for observatory controls, data analysis pipelines, adaptive optics techniques.
The project will be one of the largest optical-infrared telescopes mirroring 492 segments of 1.44 diameter each on its 30-meter diameter using sophisticated sensors, actuators and control systems. Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) and Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital and Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune will make use of the TMT.
The ground-based large segmented mirror reflecting telescope is under construction on Mauna Kea in Hawaii and it can observe from near-ultraviolet to mid-infrared (0.31 to 28 μm wavelengths) with its adaptive optics system removing the image blur caused by the atmosphere of the Earth, reaching the potential of a large mirror.
Once built, the TMT will have by far the highest altitude, and will be the second-largest telescope after the E-ELT, both of whom use an array of small 1.44m hexagonal mirrors – a design that is different from the large mirrors of the LBT or GMT, currently in use.
|Organization||TMT International Observatory|
|Location||Mauna Kea Observatory 13 North|
|Altitude||4,050 m or 13,290 ft|
|Wavelength||Near UV, visible, and Mid-IR (0.31–28 μm)|
|First light||est. 2022|
|Telescope style||Segmented Ritchey–Chrétien telescope|
|Diameter||30 m or 98 ft|
|Secondary dia.||3.1 m or 10 ft|
|Tertiary dia.||2.5 m × 3.5 m or 8.2 ft × 11.5 ft|
|Collecting area||655 m2 or 7,050 sq ft|
|Focal length||f/15 (450 m)|