Washington, July 22 (ANI): The board of directors of the TMT Observatory Corporation has selected Mauna Kea as the preferred site for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), which will be the most capable and advanced telescope ever constructed.
The decision has been made after careful evaluation and comparison between two outstanding candidate sites-Mauna Kea in Hawai and Cerro Armazones in Chile.
When completed in 2018, the TMT will enable astronomers to detect and study light from the earliest stars and galaxies, analyze the formation of planets around nearby stars, and test many of the fundamental laws of physics. o achieve these outstanding results, the TMT will integrate the latest innovations in precision control, segmented mirror design, and adaptive optics to correct for the blurring effect of Earth's atmosphere, enabling the TMT to study the Universe as clearly as if the telescope were in space.
Building on the success of the twin Keck telescopes, the core technology of TMT will be a 30-meter primary mirror composed of 492 segments.
This will give TMT nine times the collecting area of today's largest optical telescopes.
To ensure that the site chosen for TMT would enable the telescope to achieve its full potential, a global satellite survey was conducted, from which five outstanding candidate sites were chosen for further ground-based studies of atmospheric stability, wind patterns, temperature variation, and other meteorological characteristics that would affect the performance of the telescope.
Based on these results and extensive studies, Mauna Kea and Cerro Armazones were selected in May 2008 for further evaluation and environmental, financial, and cultural impact studies.
The TMT board used the results from these meticulous research campaigns to help guide the final site-selection process.
"It was clear from all the information we received that both sites were among the best in the world for astronomical research," said Edward Stone, Caltech's Morrisroe Professor of Physics and vice chairman of the TMT board.
"Each has superb observing conditions and would enable TMT to achieve its full potential of unlocking the mysteries of the Universe," he added.In the final analysis, the board selected Mauna Kea as the site for TMT. The atmospheric conditions, low average temperatures, and very low humidity will open an exciting new discovery space using adaptive optics and infrared observations. Working in concert with the partners' existing facilities on Mauna Kea will further expand the opportunities for discoveries," said Stone. (ANI)