The Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) project may be heading to Ladakh, India after protests at its initial site in Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
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The Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) project may be heading to India after its initial site in Hawaii, due to protests by local residents. The telescope, which is the set to become the largest in the world, was supposed to come up at Mauna Kea in Hawaii, but protests by locals and indigenous population stalled the project. According to a report by PTI, project partners behind the TMT are looking for alternative sites for the telescope due to its financial and scientific value. If the project does come to India, it will most likely be constructed in Hanle, Ladakh. Another probable location for the telescope is in Chile.
Bacham Eswar Reddy, Programme Director, said, “The construction was expected to start on Mauna Kea, Hawaii in 2015. However, it is now stalled due to the recent decision of the Supreme court of Hawaii revoking the construction permit on procedural grounds.” He added, “It is expected that on-site civil work on the project may be delayed by about 18-24 months. However, work on telescope and observatory subsystems continues across the partnership.”
As per the report, India is a 10% partner in the TMT project, which also includes China, Japan, Canada, and the US. In India, the project is handled by the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Department of Atomic Energy.
The telescope uses a Ritchey-Chrétien design, which uses two hyperboloidal mirrors to eliminate optical errors. As the name would suggest, the primary mirror of the TMT has a diameter of 30 meters. The primary mirror includes 492 hexagonal segments, each of which is about 1.44 meters across corners. Each of the 492 hexagonal segments are closely spaced with a gap of about 2.5mm between two segments. The secondary mirror is 3.1 meters in diameter, which is about as large as the primary mirrors used in many telescopes currently.
This isn’t the first time that construction of a telescope has been a cause of controversy. Earlier this year, it was reported that the construction of the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) will lead to the forced relocation of nearly 9,000 local residents. Construction on the project began in 2011, and is expected to be completed by September 2016.
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