The world's largest telescope may be headed to Ladakh. The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) was originally set to be installed at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. But due to the protests of locals, the project has been delayed significantly and program partners are now looking for its new home. Ladakh is one of the possibilities with Chile and Hanle also in consideration.
TMT was under the proposal from scientists since 90s. But there was no technology available to build it. Finally, the scientists at the University of California and began the development of the design which consists 492 mirrors. The telescope, when built will be almost as tall as a 20 storied building weighing 1430 tons.
Since the thirty-meter telescope will be able to catch a very faint light, scientists are hoping they would be able to capture the lights of billions of years ago. This will help us in the understanding of subjects such as the origin of the universe and the dark matter.
“The construction was expected to start on Mauna Kea, Hawaii in 2015. However, it is now stalled due to the recent decision of the Supreme court of Hawaii revoking the construction permit on procedural grounds. ”The State of Hawaii agencies are working on the permit process following the prescribed procedure by the court. TMT is pursuing the matter in consultation with the University of Hawaii (land lease holder) and other agencies. It seeks to construct TMT on Mauna Kea which is the preferred choice,” said Bacham Eswar Reddy, Programme Director told PTI.
The project is a partnership between a total of five countries namely the Us, Japan, India, China, and Canada. The project is being mentored under the Ministry of Science and Technology and Department of Atomic Energy. When it is finished the telescope will be three times larger and 9 times powerful than the current biggest one named Keck. Once the location is finalized the construction will take up 18-24 months.
“The project is expected to improve employment opportunities for the local people besides development of the region. TMT being the largest optical and infrared telescope in the northern hemisphere will strengthen the domestic programme of the country in this field and lead to several discoveries, which will inspire future generations. ”The project will also help develop state-of-the-art high-end technologies and expertise in the country,” an official of Ministry of Science and Technology told PTI.
Recently, India launched their 7th navigational satellite IRNSS-G1 successfully. This will bring the country one step closer to having its own GPS system. In February, the government also announced that they have approved the project the to build LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) lab in India.