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Space Science

Adaptive Thirty Meter Telescope Sees Progress 61

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the thats-a-whole-lotta-space dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Caltech and the University of California have been making progress toward the development and construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) with the recent $200 million commitment from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The core of the TMT Observatory will be a wide-field, alt-az Ritchey-Chretien telescope with a 492 segment, 30 meter diameter primary mirror, a fully active secondary mirror and an articulated tertiary mirror. TMT will be the first ground-based astronomy telescope designed with adaptive optics as an integral system element that will sense atmospheric turbulence in real-time, correct the optical beam of the telescope to remove its effect, and enable true diffraction-limited imaging on the ground. TMT will have 144 times the collecting area of the Hubble Space Telescope and a spatial resolution at near-infrared and longer wavelengths more than ten times better, equivalent to observing above the Earth's atmosphere for many observations at a fraction of the cost of a space-based observatory. TMT will reach further and see more clearly than previous telescopes by a factor of 10 to 100 depending on the observation and will be a fundamental tool for the investigation of large-scale structure in the young universe including the era in which most of the stars and heavy elements were formed."
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Adaptive Thirty Meter Telescope Sees Progress

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  • And I can't even find a decent pair of binoculars.
  • You don't mean the Russian spacecraft of that name then...

  • All that fancy schmancy adaptve optics will still suck when it's raining.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Or in the dark...
  • ...I wonder what progress looks like through a thirty meter telescope?



    They should post the pics so we can all see, unless it's bad news... I don't think I want to see bad news today even if it is through a thirty meter telescope.
    • I predict they'll find out that all the stars in the galactic core went nova some millions of years ago in a vast chain reaction ... and that the resulting blast wave will reach Earth about 30,000 years from now. Better start looking around ... I hear real estate in the Lesser Magellanic Cloud is a good buy this time of year.
      • by osu-neko (2604)
        Bah, by the time the blast wave reaches us, we'll be able to shield all our systems with giant statis fields. :)
    • Well, the Rooskies didn't have "Progress" then, but I worked at a DoD observatory where that was exactly what we did. Meaning, we geared up the 'scopes to watch the Russian & Chinese spacecraft (and, maybe, 'illuminate' them once in a while, or bounce a laser off the reflectors WE left on the moon).

      You didn't need a 30 meter telescope to look at something only 90 miles away--straight up! Can't really mention which 'scopes but there are images of them on the web. They watched Kosmonauts working outside

  • by gumpish (682245) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @10:46AM (#21624193) Journal
    It's nice to see a telescope with an OBJECTIVE, QUANTIFIABLE name.

    Just look at some of these idiotic names for serious telescopes:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Very_Large_Telescope [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_Magellan_Telescope [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Extremely_Large_Telescope [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overwhelmingly_Large_Telescope [wikipedia.org]

    Terms like "Large" and "Giant" don't really mean very fucking much, do they? Seems like astronomy caught more of the frat types than the other sciences.
    • As compared to what? The Large Hadron Collider? The Supercollider? How about the Titanic or the Great Wall of China?

      I happen to like these names. This is astronomy. The study of very large, huge, colossal, inconceivably gigantic structures and scales. It's very much like the exponential growth in the size of electronic storage devices. I get a similar feeling when I ponder these concepts.

      If you follow the development of modern telescopes, they are in fact quite descriptive, in a relative way. If you're

    • by EnsilZah (575600) <EnsilZah@noSpaM.Gmail.com> on Saturday December 08, 2007 @12:04PM (#21624797)
      Seems like someone is trying hard to overcompensate some inadequacy...
      "Why yes, I DO operate the Ginormousely Absurd You-Can't-Believe-How-Fucking-Huge-It-Is Oversized-By-Any-Reasonable-Standard-Of-Measurement-And-By-Most-Unreasonable-Ones-As-Well Motherfucking Large Telescope"
    • yes, but then every field has it's own set. Electronics for example has - Large Scale Integration, Very Large Scale Integration, then the new one seems to be Ultra Large Scale Integration. I mean come on ... , let them have their fun.
    • by Saboo (1190071)
      This has been said before somewhere, but the nice thing about choosing TMT as an acronym is that it can become 'Twenty', 'Ten', or even 'Two Meter Telescope' if the budget gets cut.
    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      Just look at some of these idiotic names for serious telescopes:

      Idiotic? Sure! If by idiotic you mean totally awesome!!

      Makes me wanna rename my own 5-inch telescope into Not So Large But Hey Size Doesn't Matter It's How You Use It Telescope.

    • by gsn (989808)
      No, No thats not how it works. Their names are irrelevant its the acronyms that matter - its VLT, GMT, ELT and OWL (like the bird). There is also MMT (was multiple mirror - then became Monolithic Mirror) LSST, PS1, LBT, and the TMT - I don't remember when the last time I heard people refer to any of these by their full names (very few exceptions and most of those are like the - like CTIO 4m or just a name like Magellan - which is two telescopes the Clay and Baade - the GMT you complain about is going righ
    • Yes, you are quite right, except there is already a dog fight between Twenty Metre Telescope and Ten Metre Telescope to register for the acronym TMT, so, glad you quit the the party of idiocy and warm welcome to the party of ambiguity
    • by odyaws (943577)

      It's nice to see a telescope with an OBJECTIVE, QUANTIFIABLE name.

      Then I'm guessing you like the current name of this telescope better than the old one: California Extremely Large Telescope [ucolick.org]

      I know an engineer working on this project who jokes that "Thirty Meter Telescope" is a good name because if funding is cut they can downscope to the "Twenty Meter Telescope" without having to change any of the "TMT" logos.

    • Square Kilometre Array [wikipedia.org] (SKA) not quantifiable enough for you? Certainly makes a mere 700-odd square metres seem a trifle...but then SKA is a radio telescope.
  • by log1385 (1199377)
    We can spy on Padmé.
  • Pah, if I were building a telescope I would build one that could see at least 300 metres.

    buried as lame.

  • by pongo000 (97357) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @11:12AM (#21624373)
    Can someone in the know reconcile this statement:

    TMT will be the first ground-based astronomy telescope designed with adaptive optics as an integral system element that will sense atmospheric turbulence in real-time, correct the optical beam of the telescope to remove its effect, and enable true diffraction-limited imaging on the ground.

    with the adaptive optics capability of the quite beautiful HET [utexas.edu] at McDonald Observatory? I suppose with any number of very specific qualifiers, one could claim to be "first".

    What is the difference between the TMT and the HET with regards to "adaptive optics" and being able to negate the effects of atmospheric turbulence in real time (which the HET can do)?

    BTW, if you ever have the chance, the McDonald Observatory in Ft. Davis, TX is well worth the trip!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dotancohen (1015143)
      The McDonald Observatory is in Texas. TFA said "TMT will be the first ground-based astronomy telescope...". Emphasis mine.
      • by OverlordQ (264228)
        I assume you're trying to make a joke about Texas but failing miserably.
        • I assume you're trying to make a joke about Texas but failing miserably.
          Failing, maybe, but not miserably. Not coincidentally, it was in fact a Texan that was known by the phase "miserable failure".
      • /.ers really need to work on their moderation skills. How on earth did my post get modded +2 Interesting?!? It was a stupid joke about Texas, a place I'd never even been to! I'd request that someone give it a -1 Overrated, but we all know what happens to "please mod me down" posts in these parts.
    • by tomz16 (992375) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @11:36AM (#21624553)

      Can someone in the know reconcile this statement:
      What is the difference between the TMT and the HET with regards to "adaptive optics" and being able to negate the effects of atmospheric turbulence in real time (which the HET can do)?
      It is all a question of scale. Correcting a 30m telescope is harder than correcting for a 9m telescope (larger pupil = more atmospheric aberration over it = higher resolution requirements on your wavefront sensor, and more degrees of freedom on your deformable mirrors). There is also the question of the level of correction. Neither telescope can correct all turbulence from all conjugates and angles perfectly in realtime. The scale of the residual is what ultimately determines the performance of your system. (In fact, there are a few effects dealing with the angular separation of the laser guide star and the edge of your telescope pupil that make correction for larger telescopes intrinsically more challenging). In short, the adaptive optics required to correct a 30meter telescope are quite a bit "harder" than those required for a 10m telescope, and the technologies being developed for the TMT are really pushing the envelope of current AO technology.
    • by Einer2 (665985) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @02:14PM (#21625891)
      It actually doesn't even have an imager, just spectrographs. The term "adaptive optics" refers specifically to systems where a mirror in the light path deforms at very high rates (50-2000 Hz) to correct atmospheric distortions in the wavefront of the incoming light. TMT will have this, as do the VLT, Keck, Gemini, MMT, and Palomar. TMT is just the first that is being designed from the ground up with AO in mind.

      Hobby Eberly is basically a very low-budget version of telescopes like Keck. It has the same mirror size (and therefore the same light collecting ability), but they made several design compromises to knock the cost down from $100 million (for Keck) to about $15 million. Most of these compromises reduce the image quality, so they don't even bother trying. They just mounted a bunch of spectrographs since somebody taking a spectrum of a single object usually doesn't care about the nonplanar focal surface and correspondingly tiny effective field of view.

  • Wow, most telescopes see stars or other celestial bodies. This one can actually see progress!
    • by gaderael (1081429)
      Now the Republicans have a device to show us all the progress in Iraq and the rest of the world fails to see
  • Good. Now lets put it on the Moon and get another 10x out her.

    Isn't it about time? Or have we become so inept we can't even imagine such things any more?
  • ...is to measure the red shift of progress as it slips farther and farther away.
  • by trying things other than ridiculous expensive space experiments. Now I hope they just please recruit some of the scientists away from super-collider projects. So I can sleep at night without dreams of black holes forming up through my garbage disposal.
  • by Kidbro (80868) on Saturday December 08, 2007 @07:48PM (#21628011)
    It is not surprising that it takes a thirty meter telescope to see progress, because there sure ain't any of it nowhere near, is it?

  • Since 1610, the largest telescopes have gotten bigger in area by 3.5% every year.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.

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