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Space Technology

Construction of World's Largest Optical Telescope Approved 77

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
The University of Hawaii at Hilo has been granted a permit by the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources to begin construction of the $1.3 billion Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). From the article: "The TMT has been in development for over a decade, but the large amount of land needed for its construction raised concerns over the environmental and cultural impact of such a project. Now, however, the land board has rendered a final decision, saying that the university had satisfied the eight criteria necessary under Hawaiian state law to allow the venture to go forward. The giant TMT will be an optical and infrared telescope with enough coverage area and sharpness to observe light from 13 billion years ago, track extrasolar planets, and observe planets and stars in their early formative years."
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Construction of World's Largest Optical Telescope Approved

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  • by codeButcher (223668) on Monday April 15, 2013 @08:19AM (#43450975)

    I know it's in the summary, but why use an abbreviation if it's not immediately clear what the abbreviation stands for?

    TMT = Twenty Meter Telescope, Thirty Meter Telescope, Two Mile Telescope (etc.)?

    Because "30mT" is not as sezzy?

    (Cue flamebait about lazy USians needing TLA's for everything).

    (TLA = Three Letter Acronym. Of course)

    • by JeffSh (71237)

      I agree

    • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Monday April 15, 2013 @08:34AM (#43451043)

      Cue flamebait about lazy USians needing TLA's for everything

      Shouldn't the be USAians?

    • Exactly. I was wondering what Teenage Mutant (ninja) Turtles had to do with telescopes.
    • Because "30mT" is not as sezzy?

      a 30 milliTesla telescope? if you're trying to impress me, you've failed.

    • I'm just disappointed they didn't call it the Thirty Meter Newtonian Telescope. Everyone could have agreed on that.

    • by arielCo (995647)

      It is written:

      Three shall be the number of the letters thou shalt use, and the number of the letters shall be three.
      Four letters shalt be not used, neither useth thou two, excepting that thou then addeth one more to make three. Five is right out.

      Just be glad it's not the Thirty Meter National Telescope.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      TMT, it's dynamite!
      TMT, it'll catch the light!
      TMT it's a power load
      TMT watching novas explode!

      (Apologies to AC/DC)

    • 1. Get $1.3 billion for TMT
      2. Deliver Two Meter Telescope
      3. Profit!

    • "(Cue flamebait about lazy USians needing TLA's for everything). "

      How is a bigoted comment about Mexicans relevant?

    • by Shag (3737)

      I know it's in the summary, but why use an abbreviation if it's not immediately clear what the abbreviation stands for?

      TMT = Twenty Meter Telescope, Thirty Meter Telescope, Two Mile Telescope (etc.)?

      This is actually the second TMT that U.Cal and CalTech have been involved in. Before they got the money from the Keck Foundation, what we now know as Keck was the Ten Meter Telescope. ...but they designed new stationery anyway. ;)

  • Slots will fill up fast, how to I reserve time? Why wait until it is actually built.
  • I had no idea there were plans for a thirty-meter telescope. Hell, I had no idea such a thing was feasible. Thirty. Meters. I would be very interested to know how the mirror is constructed because it must be an engineering marvel. Hopefully there will be a lot more press about this once construction gets underway.

    Given that the largest optical telescope [wikipedia.org] today has an effective aperture a little over 10 meters, this instrument will be a giant leap forward. The best part about it is that, like the Hubble Space

    • Re:Amazing (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chrisq (894406) on Monday April 15, 2013 @08:35AM (#43451051)

      I would be very interested to know how the mirror is constructed because it must be an engineering marvel.

      Acording to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

      This mirror will be segmented and consist of 492 smaller (1.4 m), individual hexagonal mirrors. The shape of each segment, as well as its position relative to neighboring segments, will be controlled actively.

    • Search engines are your friend: TMT [tmt.org].

      Amazing technology.

    • I'm a little surprised they picked Hawaii for this. I'd have thought Hawaii wasn't talk enough. A scope of this size is going to magnify atmospheric & temp distortion greatly unless it's high enough to miss that shit.
    • How could this be the largest telescope given that the 40m E-ELT [eso.org] was approved last year?
    • The best part about it is that, like the Hubble Space telescope, we have an idea what it can show us but there will also be lots of findings we *didn't* expect.

      I wonder if it will finally be capable of getting a decent picture of Pluto.

  • No matter how big and awesome it is, it still has to view everything through the atmosphere so it's very limited in what it can do compared to one in orbit.
    • by delt0r (999393)
      Adaptive optics. They work. Google it. It is expected to have 10x the resolution of Hubble.
    • by tibit (1762298)

      Dude, how much clearer than "diffraction limited adaptive optics design" should it get for you to get it past your thick skull that this design is NOT atmospheric lensing limited. End of story right there. Shut up.

  • Maybe there is another, larger one [eso.org] that got approved [eso.org] a few months ago?
  • Why not just build another Hubble style device at that cost. Yeah, it would likely be more because we are talking about putting it in space too, but while we are still dealing with atmosphere issues and increasing air quality problems from Asia, maybe it would be better to just build a 20meter one in space? Especially if it is very modular and you could just continue to add on parts over the years predicting that we are likely to just send robots into space to do the operations instead of humans.
    • Feeding the Troll (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Because it will have a lot more optical clarity than Hubble. There's a distinct limit to the aperature acheivable with space launch. Hubble's beyond it; the shuttle is retired. While space is great for optical bands that are absorbed by the atmosphere, it's worse for *EVERYTHING* else. It costs more, it's slower to design, it's harder to fix, it has hard aperature and focal length limitations, it has bandwidth caps, it has vibration problems, it has thermal stability problems, it has power limitations, it h

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Building even a 10 meter one in space costs WAY more than this one will.

      For a given amount of money you'll always get a much larger mirror if you put it on the top of a mountain vs putting it up in space. Either solution is a compromise. There is really room for having both, as I imagine particular problems can be solved by one vs the other. If you're going to build a telescope on Earth it is probably best to either build it really big, or really cheap (both are things which you can't do in space).

      I woul

  • Very cool!

    > raised concerns over the environmental and cultural impact of such a project

    I see no reason to modify my parsimonious theory that it's all about throwing money at people until they go away.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Extremely_Large_Telescope [wikipedia.org] at 39m http://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/vlt.html [eso.org] at 4 x 8.2m and my favorite mainly because of it's sheer size http://www.gmto.org/ [gmto.org] at 6 x 8.4m
    • by Shag (3737)

      VLT is already built, and consists of four scopes which can be linked for interferometry in the IR, but don't always function that way. Even when they do, their light-collecting area is smaller than TMT.
      EELT is approved but not built, and when built, will be bigger than TMT.
      GMT will have an effective aperture and light-collecting area smaller than TMT.

      Basically, the TMT folks now have to try to build it before EELT. If they do, it will unquestionably be the largest optical scope in the world for some perio

  • by Bartles (1198017) on Monday April 15, 2013 @10:55AM (#43452109)
    to a thirty meter telescope these days, is not the size, but getting the necessary environmental and cultural licensing. For a freaking telescope. We're done doing great things, i think.
  • I cannot understand how there would be any "environmental and cultural impact" of such a telescope compared the monstrosities on beaches of Hawaii....
  • Living in Hilo, and working on Mauna Kea, I think the administration of UH-Hilo would have heart attacks if they were ever approved to do anything involving the word "billion." They're constantly struggling to get funding for things like a permanent building for their pharmacy Ph.D program (which would help quite a bit with continuing accreditation). No, the TMT isn't a UH-Hilo project, at all.

    It's actually University of California and CalTech (the main partners in Keck), plus ACURA (the Association of Ca

    • by sackbut (1922510)
      It does need to get built, then serviced, etc. There will be some spin-off in construction and maintenance jobs locally. Surely it can't be all built on the mainland then shipped and put together? The Keck's building is decent in Waimea. Any ideas of where the control building will be for this?
      • by Shag (3737)

        Oh, there'll definitely be jobs. Some UH-Hilo physics, astronomy or natural science majors will almost certainly wind up there. They'll probably be outnumbered by the Hawaii Community College grads, first in construction trades, then in electronic tech, admin, et cetera.

        The control building will be at the summit. If you mean the base facility/office, I've heard it'll be on the corner of Nowelo and A'ohoku, next to Gemini, below CalTech, and across A'ohoku from 'Imiloa.

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