Biggest Telescope Chooses a Home

26 07 2009

So just in case you needed one more excuse to visit Hawaii, the summit of Mauna Kea is about to get another resident — the Thirty Meter Telescope.

TMT_assy_2

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Right now, the dual Keck telescopes are the largest on this key observing spot.  But in the next year engineers will break ground for this gargantuan contraption of ridiculous proportion.

With a collecting area 10 times that of the Kecks, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) stands to produce some amazing science.  Complimenting it’s enormous size will be an array of instruments that will give it a sensitivity close to 100 times better than any ground-based observatory and best the resolution of Hubble by a factor of 10!

When completed in 2018, the TMT will enable astronomers to detect and study light from the earliest stars and galaxies, analyze the formation of planets around nearby stars, and test many of the fundamental laws of physics.

To ensure that the site chosen for TMT would enable the telescope to achieve its full potential, a global satellite survey was conducted, from which five outstanding candidate sites were chosen for further ground-based studies of atmospheric stability, wind patterns, temperature variation, and other meteorological characteristics that would affect the performance of the telescope.

Now that would be a dream job.

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2 responses

26 07 2009
147horsepower

Man… that’s 15 of me end to end! I expect to see some really awesome pictures in 9 years.

27 07 2009
Máire of the Lilies

Woot! I vote for this location for IPS 2020! That’ll give Shawn a lot of lead time and 2 years for them to work the bugs out of the system before the planetarium world descends upon Mauna Kea.

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