India entered another elite global club of five countries building and operating the world’s largest optical and infra-red telescope — the thirty meter telescope (TMT) atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii, US. It is considered to be one of the best astronomical sites on the planet.
India, along with other partners — US, Japan, China and Canada — performed the ‘bhumi-pujan’ for the project on October 7.
In the $1.5 billion (about Rs. 9,000 crore) to be spent on the project, India will be contributing 10% — Rs. 1,300 crore. Interestingly, the project was approved by the Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 12, the day Mangalyaan reached Mars.
“India will be contributing to the project mostly through in-kind. About 70% of our contributions will be by providing some of the key systems to the project,” said Eswar Reddy, programme director, India TMT project.
He added, “Our country will have access to state-of-art-facilities. We will get 35 nights in a year to work on it. This will help us peek into the universe when it was very young.”
“The ambitious and technologically challenging project will help astronomers to 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,” Reddy said.