Since 2003, the Foundation has committed funding for the collaborative design and creation of the world’s largest ground-based optical/infrared telescope. The Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) Project has been led by the California Institute of Technology and University of California.
Following the successful completion of the project’s Conceptual Design and Construction Proposal in 2007, the project entered the Preliminary Design phase for most critical TMT sub-systems. In 2008,accomplishments of note include:
- The telescope structure design progressed through Preliminary Design together with partners in Canada. A major external review of the on-site assembly of the structure was held in early 2008 and findings from that review will be incorporated in the design approach.
- The National Optical Astronomy Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with TMT stating their intention to collaborate in the TMT Project. NAOJ has initiated design roles in two of the critical TMT instruments and continued to explore other potential contributions.
- The TMT first light adaptive optics system entered its preliminary design phase with collaborators in Canada, and the team completed a successful Optomechanical Preliminary Design Review late in 2008. The challenging tip-tilt stage of one of the structure’s critical mirrors was prototyped in 2008 and passed dynamic performance tests that exceeded required metrics. The TMT External Performance Review favorably reviewed the modeling of the TMT Adaptive Optics system.
- Armazones, Chile and Mauna Kea, Hawaii have been identified as the two leading potential sites for the Thirty-Meter Telescope.
When completed, the telescope will offer basic science an unprecedented glimpse back in space and time, providing clues to the formation of some of the universe’s earliest stars and galaxies. Congratulations to the University of California, Caltech, and their partners for their continued progress on the innovative TMT Project.