India joins next generation 30m telescope project on Mauna Kea

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Hawaii, June 26 (ANI): Indian astronomers will join a project to build the Thirty Meter Telescope Project (TMT) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

TMT is the next-generation astronomical observatory that is scheduled to begin scientific operations in 2018 on Mauna Kea.

It has completed its 77 million dollar design-development phase and has entered the early construction phase after an additional 200 million dollar pledge.

Minister of science and technology, Prithviraj Chavan, announced Friday that the nation will join TMT as an observer, the first step toward becoming a full partner.

"India is well recognized and respected as one of the top-ranking countries in the field of basic research and India will be an integral part of the next generation of astronomical research as a part of TMT," said Henry Yang, chairman of the TMT board and Chancellor of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Thirty Meter Telescope Project team praised India for its participation in the project.

"The TMT and its partners are extremely pleased that India has selected TMT as their next-generation astronomical research project," said Edward Stone vice chair of the TMT board and Caltech's Morrisroe Professor of Physics.

The University of California, the California Institute of Technology and the Association of Canadian Universities are building the telescope for research in astronomy.

The core technology of TMT will be a 30-meter segmented primary mirror which, will give TMT nine times the collecting area of today's largest optical telescopes and three times sharper images.

The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) joined TMT as a Collaborating Institution in 2008 while its Chinese counterpart joined TMT as an Observer in 2009.

The University of Hawaii's Board of Regents is due to vote on the project on Monday. It must give its approval because it owns the lease on the land where the telescope is to be built. (ANI)

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