Proposal to Change Location of TMT | 22 Jan 2020

Why in News

India, a partner in the construction of Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), has requested that the project be moved out of the proposed site at Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii, USA.

Key Points

  • India’s Proposal for Changing the Location:
    • The TMT has been a litigious site since 2014. The project has not made any progress because of regular obstructions.
    • The proposed site is considered sacred to indigenous Hawaiians, and already has too many observatories in the region.
  • Alternate Site:
    • The proposed alternate site to locate the telescope is the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) on La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain.
  • Reasons for Choosing Mauna Kea Initially:
    • Mauna Kea in Hawaii is considered a superior site for telescope establishment because it offers best imaging possibilities, stable weather.
    • Additionally, it also has the necessary infrastructure to manage telescopes as it already hosts several telescopes.
  • India’s Role in TMT:
    • India has committed $200 million, which is about a tenth of the proposed cost.
    • The telescope needs 492 precisely polished mirrors and India is to contribute 83 of them.
    • India, in 2020 stands to get 10% of the available slots. As the level of contribution determines the amount of viewing time, or slots, that the member-countries’ scientists get on the machine.

Thirty Metre Telescope

  • The Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) will enable scientists to study fainter objects in the universe, which gives information about early stages of evolution of the universe.
  • It will also allow to see deeper into space and observe cosmic objects with unprecedented sensitivity.
  • With its 30 m prime mirror diameter, TMT will be three times as wide, with nine times more area than the largest currently existing visible-light telescope in the world.
  • The Thirty Metre Telescope is a joint venture (JV) involving following countries namely, USA, Japan, China, India and Canada.