Indian delegation visits Hawaii to discuss progress of TMT

News excerpt:

An Indian delegation of Department of Science and Technology (DST) has visited Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA and discussed challenges in the progress of Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project and ways to overcome them.


  • The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will be the world’s most advanced and capable ground-based optical, near-infrared, and mid-infrared observatory. 
  • Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a 30-meter diameter primary mirror optical and infrared telescope being established at Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA. 
  •  It will allow us to see deeper into space and observe cosmic objects with unprecedented sensitivity.
  • It will integrate the latest innovations in precisions control, segmented mirror design, and adaptive optics. 
  • At the heart of the telescope is the segmented mirror, made up of 492 individual segments. Precisely aligned, these segments will work as a single reflective surface of 30m diameter.
  • The TMT project is an international partnership between CalTech, Universities of California, Canada, Japan, China and India.

Mauna kea

  • Mauna Kea (“White Mountain”) is a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii, the largest and southernmost of the Hawaiian Islands. 
  • It is located about 300 km (190 miles) from Honolulu, which lies on the island of Oahu. 
  • The highest point in the Pacific Basin, and the highest island-mountain in the world, Mauna Kea rises 9,750 meters (32,000 ft) from the ocean floor to an altitude of 4,205 meters (13,796 ft) above sea level, which places its summit above 40 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • The broad volcanic landscape of the summit area is made up of cinder cones on a lava plateau.

Objective of the delegation’s visit:

  • The discourse centered around the present status of the TMT, especially concerning the Mauna Kea site, initiation of civil construction, the current funding landscape, and the progress of in-kind contributions. Additionally, the delegation explored the expected timelines and future trajectory of the project.
  • An issue of these discussions was the initiation of a process for  inclusion of native Hawaiians in the decision-making process, reflecting a commitment to inclusive and responsible development.

Outcome of the visit:

  • The Indian delegation was thoroughly briefed on various aspects of the project, highlighting the inclusion of native Hawaiians, funding strategies, civil construction plans, and the developmental activities essential for establishing the TMT.

TMT and India: 

  • The Aryabhatta Research Institute for Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital, the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore and the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune are the three main institutes constituting TMT-India. 
  • India is a Founder-Member Partner in this project which aims to open new windows to the universe through optical and infrared astronomy. Indian participation in this project was approved by the Union Cabinet in 2014.
  • The activities of TMT-India will be coordinated by the India TMT Coordination Centre (ITCC) set up by the Department of Science and Technology, with IIA as the nodal agency of ITCC and Professor B. Eswar Reddy (IIA) as the Programme Director.
  • India TMT will be jointly funded by the Departments of Science and Technology and Atomic Energy.

TMT’s Significance: 

  • The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a pioneering global scientific effort set to transform our understanding of the universe. 
  • With unique capabilities, it aims to explore mysteries like black holes, dark matter, and extraterrestrial life. 
  • TMT seeks answers to fundamental questions about the universe's nature, galaxy evolution, black hole-galaxy relationships, and more.

Way Forward: 

  • For making “Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)” project a success some measures have to be adopted like: collaborative problem-solving, community inclusion, transparent communication, stable funding, environmentally responsible practices, adaptable timeline management, legal compliance, cultural sensitivity, inclusive decision-making, and regular stakeholder engagement
  • These measures aim to ensure project success while respecting local communities and the environment.

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