Canada Commits Share of Funds for Thirty Meter Telescope


On April 6, 2015, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Government of Canada's intention to provide significant support for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), an international project that will build one of the world's largest and most advanced astronomical observatories in Hawaii.

The Government's support would provide resources over 10 years to enable Canada's participation in the construction and commissioning of the TMT. The majority of the Government's support for the TMT will be spent in Canada, creating high-quality jobs related to the construction and assembly of key telescope components, including a precision-steel enclosure by Dynamic Structures Limited, based in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, and cutting-edge adaptive optics technologies, to be developed by the National Research Council in partnership with Canadian companies.

"It was a pleasure today to announce the Government's support for the Thirty Meter Telescope project. This revolutionary facility has the potential to transform astronomers' understanding of the universe. Our Government is proud to be an official partner in this important project and to be contributing to science that will advance Canadian and international scientific discovery." Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, "Our participation in the Thirty Meter Telescope project will generate new capabilities and technologies in Canada which will help create and maintain high-quality jobs in communities across the country. It is also a real tribute to Canadian know-how that a British Columbia firm was selected to build the telescope's enclosure."

TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope) is a collaboration between the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), University of California (UC) in the US, the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA); National Astronomical Observatories of Japan (NAOJ), a consortium of Chinese institutions led by the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), and institutions in India supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of India. On May 6, 2014, the TMT International Observatory LLC (TIO) was formed. The new TMT organization, TIO, consists of Caltech, the University of California, Japan and China as initial international partners. India in late 2014 and Canada in April, 2015 have confirmed to be a full member of TIO.

Representing the next generation giant optical/infrared astronomical telescope, the TMT will be the pioneer instrument for astronomy in the next few decades. TMT will provide a factor of 10 improvement in the light gathering power over the current generation of 8-10m class telescopes, enabling numerous new, exciting science to be done in the future. The TMT project has initiated the construction phase on Mauna Kea, Hawaii in Octobor, 2014. When completed in about 2024, TMT will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time.

Since 2009, the National Astronomical Observatories of CAS, together with Nanjing Institute of Astronomical Optics & Technology, Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, Institute of Optics and Electronics, and Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry of CAS, initiated S&T feasibility studies using their in close collaboration with the US side, which obtained acknowledgement from the top leaders of the State Council, CAS management, and the Chinese Astronomical Society as well. The TMT Project team of CAS has demonstrated to the international TMT community its technical capability to make these and other key contributions to the TMT Project. Through NAOC's involvement in the TMT Project, Chinese research institutes and universities have already benefited significantly in a number of ways.

As a funding member partner in TIO, TMT-China consortium institutes have pledged their investments which would entitle Chinese astronomers to a corresponding share in telescope observing time. During the next ten years, we will be able to work with our international partners to develop this leading world-class astronomy facility and to foster collaborations in scientific, technological and educational areas. When TMT is completed, Chinese astronomers will have access to an undisputed world-class facility and the ensuing opportunities to accomplish significant scientific discoveries and breakthroughs.

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