Canada becomes full member of Thirty Meter Telescope project


Canada is the most recent nation to affirm its commitment to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) and was voted in as a full member of the project by the TMT International Observatory (TIO) Board of Directors at a recent board meeting.

The country joins California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the science institutions of China, India, and Japan as partners in the TMT project.

TIO is the nonprofit limited liability company founded in May 2014 to carry out the construction and operation phases of the TMT project.

The TMT project is working toward building a powerful, next-generation astronomical observatory at Mauna Kea, slated to see ‘first light’ in the 2020s. (“First light” is defined as the first use of a telescope to take an astronomical image after it has been constructed.)

Canada will provide CAD$243.5 million toward the project over the next decade. It will build the telescope enclosure and the cutting-edge adaptive optics system.

“Canada’s participation in the Thirty Meter Telescope will provide our world-leading astronomers and astrophysicists with the opportunity to make new, exciting discoveries about our universe while training and inspiring the next generation of highly qualified Canadian researchers and technicians,” said Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology).

When completed, the telescope’s large aperture will collect more light, allowing international astronomers to observe fainter objects, including planets that orbit stars outside our own solar system, and distant stars that formed some 13 billion light years away.

In addition to Canada’s role in TMT’s construction, other international partners are moving ahead on various other aspects of the project:

  • In India, fabrication of the mirror support system continues.
  • In China, partners are designing the telescope’s fully articulated main science steering mirror system and developing the laser guide star system.
  • In Japan, over 60 special zero thermal-expansion glass mirror blanks for the main mirror have been produced and the telescope structure is being designed in detail.
  • In California, the primary mirror and mirror control system is also in final design.

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