The world’s largest telescope in the making

December 21st, 2007 - 4:10 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, December 21 (ANI): A charitable institution established by Intel co-founder Gordan Moore and his wife Betty is donating 200 million dollars for the development of the worlds largest optical telescope.

“It’s the biggest news to hit astronomy since the Hubble Space Telescope was launched,” Discovery News quoted University of California-Santa Cruz astronomer Sandra Faber as saying.

The website has revealed that the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is a one-billion dollar project, which is being led by the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and two university consortiums.

Monetary calculations suggest that the California universities have so far contributed 100 million dollars.

It is also said that with coupled with previous gifts from the Moore Foundation and other organizations, this amount now forms about one-third of the cash required for the project.

“Once you have that amount of funding then other people who might be in a position to fund it tend to think ‘OK, now it’s real. I’m in,’” Sky & Telescope executive editor Kelly Beatty said.

The development work will begin in 2009, and the TMT is expected to be ready for use by 2016.

The project managers have yet to select a site for their work, but they have narrowed the options to locations in Chile, Hawaii or Mexico.

The National Science Foundation has called for the creation of a 30-meter-class telescope to study the earliest galaxies of the universe and mysterious dark energy, which is believed to be responsible for the accelerated spread of space itself.

Once ready, the new telescope will come with eight times more light-collecting power as compared to current observatories. It will also have better resolution than the Hubble Space Telescope, named after astronomer Edwin Hubble.

Astronomers say that this telescope may also be able to image planets circling stars beyond our solar system.

“It’s going to bring the universe 10 times closer,” Faber said.

The TMT’s primary mirror will consist 492 individual 1.45-meter segments that will be constantly adjusted to maintain precise alignment. Advanced adaptive optics are planned to null the effects of wind and atmospheric disturbances. (ANI)

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