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  • richardmitnick 8:28 am on September 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hawaii Tribune Herald, TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope   

    From TMT via Hawaii Tribune Herald : “TMT still shooting for 2024 completion…” 

    Thirty Meter Telescope Banner

    Thirty Meter Telescope
    Thirty Meter Telescope

    Hawaii Tribune Herald bloc
    Hawaii Tribune Herald

    September 21, 2015

    This artist’s rendering shows how the Thirty Meter Telescope (lower left) might look on Mauna Kea. Courtesy of TMT.

    The TMT International Observatory is sticking with the same timeline for completing its giant telescope on Mauna Kea despite protests that have halted land clearing at its construction site for nearly six months and a legal challenge before the state Supreme Court, according to one of its board members.

    Michael Bolte, an astronomy professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told the Tribune-Herald on Friday that he still hopes to have the Thirty Meter Telescope ready to begin studying the stars in 2024. That’s assuming the court upholds its Conservation District land use permit and a resolution is found with the mostly Native Hawaiian protesters, who view construction on the mountain as desecration of sacred land.

    “That’s still our target and I think we can still meet that,” he said, cautiously.

    While grubbing and grading has been on hold since late March, when protesters first blocked workers from reaching the TMT site below the summit, Bolte said design and production of telescope parts and structures continues in each of the five partner countries, helping to keep other aspects of the $1.4 billion endeavor more or less on track.

    “Pretty much in all the partner countries activities are running full speed ahead,” he said.

    The project’s nonprofit corporation is based in Pasadena, Calif., but it is supported and funded by Canada, China, India and Japan, in addition to Caltech and the University of California. Each partner is currently playing a role in getting the project ready for when construction might be able to resume, Bolte said.

    He said a few segments that will make up the telescope’s massive 30-meter-wide primary mirror have been built. The parts will be mass produced in four countries.

    “I think it’s going to happen soon,” Bolte said, regarding mass production. “I don’t have the schedule.”

    Rather than one giant piece of glass, the mirror is made of 492 segments, similar to the Keck telescopes, though on a larger scale.

    Keck Observatory
    Keck Observatory Interior

    He said the segments have to be extremely precise and the more difficult pieces are being manufactured first.

    The two Keck telescopes, also on Mauna Kea, have the world’s largest mirrors at 10 meters across each. TMT will have the largest next to an even bigger 39-meter telescope planned for completion in Chile about the same time.

    Bolte said the TMT’s primary mirror would be 12 times more powerful than the Hubble space telescope.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    It’s expected to capture images of the universe’s first galaxies and stars, and allow other objects to be seen more clearly.

    In Japan, he said prototypes of the telescope structure, which will hold the mirror, are being made, while the mirror’s sensors and actuators are being designed or built in India.

    China is working on secondary and tertiary mirrors, in addition to designing the sodium laser that will be used for the telescope’s adaptive optics system, he said.

    The laser allows the telescope to adjust for the atmosphere’s distortion by creating a fake star. That system is used on other Mauna Kea telescopes, though TMT would be the first to have it from the start.

    Canada, which is responsible for building the telescope’s dome, also is working on the adaptive optics system, Bolte said.

    In the United States, Caltech and the University of California are working on the instrumentation and the control systems that will run the telescope, he said.

    “Everybody has bits and pieces of almost everything,” Bolte said.

    He estimated hundreds of people are working on the TMT project around the globe. TMT estimates it will create about 130 permanent jobs on the Big Island.

    Bolte said a lot of the work is on five- to eight-year timelines, which is why it’s not being delayed.

    But are the delays on the mountain affecting the project in the long run?

    Bolte wasn’t ready to make that statement.

    “Eventually, that has to be the case,” he said, regarding grubbing and grading work resuming.

    “The delays are pretty small in the big project timeline. I don’t know when serious replanning would start. I hope we don’t get to that.”

    Bolte also said the board hasn’t updated the estimated cost of the project, which is $1.4 billion in 2012 dollars, despite construction delays and higher security costs.

    With its land use permit before the Supreme Court, there’s also the possibility of the project having to seek approval again from the state’s Board of Land and Natural Resources if the justices find the land board violated the due process of TMT opponents.

    If that happens, he said the TMT board would have to decide whether it wants to stick with Mauna Kea and restart the process in the face of stiffer opposition.

    “The answer is yes, probably,” Bolte said, when asked if it would still try to build the telescope on the mountain.

    “As a board, we will just have to consider that.”

    For now, he said there is no timeline for resuming construction.

    “We have been patient,” Bolte said. “These are real issues in Hawaii. The protesters had the question mark about the state process. We don’t want to be pushy.”

    Despite the challenges, he said he isn’t discouraged, adding the advance in science TMT represents helps keep him feeling positive.

    “I give a lot of talks about TMT,” Bolte said. “Every time I do that I get really excited.

    “Every time I review my slides I’m just amazed how powerful it’s going to be and how it’s going to solve all the things that are right at the edge of our knowledge right now.

    “I think we’re going to get through all these challenges on Mauna Kea, build this, and this is going to be one of the most productive scientific facilities of this century.”

    In addition to providing the best pictures of the early universe, the telescope is expected to be able to determine if life exists, or can exist, on planets in other solar systems by studying the light spectrum from the distant worlds.

    The TMT won’t be alone in cutting-edge astronomy. The 24.5-meter Giant Magellan Telescope [GMT] and the ESO 39-meter European Extremely Large Telescope are planned for completion in Chile about the same time, if not earlier.

    Giant Magellan Telescope

    ESO E-ELT Interior

    Still, astronomers say TMT is needed since it will be the only one of its kind in the northern hemisphere, meaning it would see parts of the universe the telescopes in Chile can’t.

    “In astronomy research … the two (Chile and Hawaii) have played almost equally important roles,” Bolte said.

    “They are very complimentary.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Near the center of Pasadena, California, a team of scientists, engineers, and project specialists is busily planning and designing what eventually will become the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth. When completed later this decade, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time.
    The Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy
    California Institute of Technology
    Department of Science and Technology of India
    The National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC)
    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
    University of California

  • richardmitnick 2:43 pm on April 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope   

    From Dunlap: “With $243-million contribution, Canada signs on to mega-telescope in search of first stars and other Earths” 

    Dunlap Institute bloc
    Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics


    Apr. 07 2015
    IVAN SEMENIUK, The Globe and Mail

    One of the biggest telescopes ever conceived to gaze upon the cosmos will be doing a substantial share of that gazing on behalf of Canadian astronomers.

    That’s the upshot of an announcement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday that officially committed Canada to membership in the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) — a massive astronomical observatory to be constructed on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

    TMT Schematic

    Mr. Harper said Canada would provide $243.5-million towards the telescope, corresponding to a 15 to 20 per cent share in the roughly $1.5-billion project.

    Much of the money will be spent within Canada, in part on the observatory’s 56-metre tall movable steel dome, which is slated to be built by Dynamic Structures Ltd. of Port Coquitlam, B.C., for about $150 million. The company already developed a design for the dome as part of Canada’s involvement in the preliminary phases of the project.

    Through the National Research Council, Canada will also provide the telescope’s adaptive optics — a sophisticated set of computer controlled deformable mirrors that will be used to cancel out the distorting effects of Earth’s atmosphere. Finally, the partnership will require Canada to pay for its share of the telescope’s operating costs in return for access to its enormous, far-seeing eye.

    “It’s amazing news for Canadian astronomy and for Canadian science in general,” said Ray Carlberg, a professor of astronomy at the University of Toronto and the project’s Canadian director. He compared the announcement to other key developments in the history of Canadian astronomy, like the founding of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in 1918, or the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope [CFHT] in 1979.

    Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
    Canada France Hawaii Telescope Interior

    As its name suggests, the heart of the TMT is a massive segmented mirror that is 30 metres across, giving it roughly ten the light-collecting surface of the most powerful telescopes operating today — enought to peer to the very edge of the visible universe and witness the birth of the first stars and galaxies.

    In terms of sheer telescope muscle, “the TMT will be a larger step forward than has occurred anytime in history,” said Michael Bolte a project board member and astronomer at the University of California Santa Cruz.

    Mr. Harper’s announcement came at a do-or-die moment for Canada’s involvement in the TMT. Construction of the telescope had already been delayed a year when it became clear that no funding would be forthcoming in the Canadian government’s 2014 budget. By then Canada had already put $30-million toward the design phase of the project.

    Astronomers in Canada have been anxiously waiting to see what the government would do this year. It was widely understood that if Canada balked, the project would move ahead without much further Canadian involvement.

    Over the past several months representatives of the astronomical community and other stakeholders have been meeting with federal officials to lobby for Canada’s participation in the project.

    “You don’t get promises out of a meeting like that, but I felt like we put our case forward well and people were listening to us,” said Christine Wilson, president of the Canadian Astronomical Society.

    The TMT project is led by a U.S. based consortium of the University of California and Caltech with a combined 25 per cent share. Other partners include Japan with 20 per cent and China and India with 10 per cent each.

    The Canadian contribution means the telescope has now secured more than 80 per cent of the capital it needs to move forward, which all but guarantees that it will be built, notwithstanding an assortment of technical and political challenges.

    It also strengthens the case that the TMT consortium is making to other potential partners that are still in the process of deciding whether to jump on board the project, Dr. Bolte said.

    The TMT is one of only two or three multinational mega-telescopes that are expected to be completed in the next decade or so and that will push the exploration of the universe into new realm. Its counterparts include the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope [ESO/E-ELT] and the 25.4-metre Giant Magellan Telescope [GMT], both in early stages of construction.

    ESO E-ELT Interior

    Giant Magellan Telescope
    Giant Magellan Interior

    Canadian astronomers have sought membership in one of these projects to avoid being left out of the next wave of cosmic discovery, which could include measuring the atmospheric composition of Earth-like planets orbiting around other stars.

    “If we could see that in my lifetime, I think that would be amazing,” said Dr. Wilson.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Dunlap Institute campus

    The Dunlap Institute is committed to sharing astronomical discovery with the public. Through lectures, the web, social and new media, an interactive planetarium, and major events like the Toronto Science Festival, we are helping to answer the public’s questions about the Universe.
    Our work is greatly enhanced through collaborations with the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, David Dunlap Observatory, Ontario Science Centre, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Toronto Public Library, and many other partners.

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