Adding to the list of many scientific achievements that India already holds, the country might soon be the host to the world’s largest telescope project- the TMT.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii, was the first choice of the project for the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) International Observatory which is estimated to be worth $1.47-billions – ₹98.26 crores.
But with the Hawaii Supreme Court cancelling the permit to build the TMT in 2015, stating the reason that the land at which the project was to commence was sacred for the community that lived there.
The TMT board which looking for alternatives is set to send an international team to Ladakh in a couple of months
Hawaiian Authorities is working to get the permit re-issued, but the TMT wants no delay and is already out scoping for other places.
Apart from Hanle, Ladakh, already housing the Indian Astronomical Observatory, India is also building edge sensors, actuators and system support assemblies apart from the software support it will be providing for the TMT
Henry Yang, chair of the TMT International Observatory Board, said, “Given the enormous investment and potential challenges ahead, it is necessary to also carry out a review of alternate sites.”
TMT India program developer, B Eswar Reddy said that board had decided on two prospective site – in Ladakh, India and the other in Chile
He said, “Yes, it was an unexpected turn for the project which got delayed due to the decision of the Hawaiian supreme court.
Meanwhile, the project is also looking for prospective sites both in northern and southern hemispheres, including Hanle.”
He also added, “However, a lot of technical works (including in India) are progressing well in the partner countries. We expect all the systems to be ready and technical risks retired by the time we resolve the issue of site… In India too, industries are working on prototype development and some are qualified for production and some are still working on.”
The Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Bengaluru and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune have already been working on the project since 2013 with 2 government agencies
The department of science and technology (DST) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) are the government agencies that are helping out in the project.
We can only wait and see what is decided. Will it be India or Chile or neither?