World’s Largest Telescope, The $1.47 Bn Thirty Metre Telescope Might Be Built In Ladakh!

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India may become home to the world’s largest telescope project – the $1.47-billion Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) International Observatory.

Hanle in Ladakh has been shortlisted as a prospective site by the TMT board following major hurdles in Mauna Kea, Hawaii – the first choice for the project. An international team is expected to visit Ladakh in a couple of months.
The Hawaii Supreme Court held in December 2015 cancelled the permit issued to TMT for constructing the observatory following claims that the plot in Mauna Kea was sacred. While Hawaiian authorities are working towards re-issue of the permit, the TMT Board is scouting for alternative sites to avoid delaying the project.
India is already building edge sensors, actuators and system support assemblies, besides contributing to the software of TMT.


After a meeting on this February 11, Henry Yang, chair of the TMT International Observatory Board, said in a statement: “Given the enormous investment and potential challenges ahead, it is necessary to also carry out a review of alternate sites.”
TMT India program director B Eswar Reddy said that after the February meeting, the board has decided on two prospective sites – Hanle and another in Chile. “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 said. India is expected to invest $212 million in the project.

Admitting that the Hawaiian problem means, at least, a two-year delay, Reddy said: “However, a lot of technical work (including in India) is 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 the site… In India too, industries are working on prototype development and some are qualified for production and some are still working on.”
He said TMT is hoping to get back to civil construction within two years either on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
Two major scientific institutions – the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Bengaluru and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune – along with two government departments having worked on the project since 2013.
The department of science and technology (DST) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) are the government partners while IIA is the nodal agency.
Source: The Times of India | 1

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