India to play key role in building world’s largest telescope | delhi | Hindustan Times
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India to play key role in building world’s largest telescope

India will play a key role in building the world’s largest optical and infrared telescope — the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), which is expected to be completed by 2022 at Mauna Kea in Hawai. Vanita Srivastava reports.

delhi Updated: Aug 18, 2013 01:15 IST
Vanita Srivastava

India will play a key role in building the world’s largest optical and infrared telescope — the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), which is expected to be completed by 2022 at Mauna Kea in Hawai.

This island in the US is among the best astronomical sites in the world

Institutes from India, Canada, Japan, China, and the universities in the USA signed the master partnership agreement on July 25 to build and operate the world’s largest optical and infrared telescope.

This is a significant milestone for the $1.2-billion project. The largest existing optical telescopes in the world are only about 10 metres. India’s contribution to the project is 10% — roughly Rs 800 crore — of which 70% would be by providing spare parts.

“It is an important milestone in our global endeavor to raise astronomical observations to a new level. It will be a major stimulus to astrophysics research programs in India.

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The astronomers in the country would be able to work with the best facilities and have an opportunity to do frontline research,” Dr Eswar Reddy, TMT’s India programme director told HT.

Dr Reddy said that the design of the telescope is complete and is expected to begin its construction in April 2014. The observatory is expected to be operational by 2021-22.

The ambitious and technologically challenging project will help astronomers study some of the most distant objects, and better our current understanding of the nature of the dark energy that is responsible for the accelerated expansion of the universe, Dr Reddy said.

“TMT is expected to make a detailed study of exosolar planets, enabling direct imaging of the planets in many cases.

The high sensitivity of the telescope will enable identification of signatures of life on these planets,” he added.