IUCAA to polish, shape mirror segment and produce actuators for world’s largest telescope

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A first-of-its-kind workshop in India on the upcoming global mega astronomical project on The Thirty-Metre Telescope (TMT) started at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) on Monday. The IUCAA is one of the three agencies from India working on this $1.4-billion project which is expected to be completed by 2021. Once constructed, this will be the largest telescope in the world and will be installed in Hawaii.

"This is one of the biggest astronomical projects in the world, hence it is very important to India and its scientists' community. Indian scientists involved in this three-day workshop will discuss the uses of TMT for various futuristic projects," said IUCAA director Ajit Kembhavi. "India will contribute Rs 600 crore for the project that has been sent by the Planning Commission to the government for approval," Kembhavi added.

Around 50 top scientists from across the globe, including project manager Dr Gary Sanders from California, are involved with the workshop that will explore the potential of TMT in areas of polarimetry, time-resolved science and astrometry.

India will contribute in three ways. "India will polish and shape the mirror segments and also produce the actuators that control the motion of telescope. Currently the testing of mirror prototypes are being done in California. India will also develop 60% of the software required to control and support the system," said Dr Sanders. "We are also trying to get a data and science centre for the telescope in India," added Kembhavi.

The TMT, with its large collecting area, will be used to probe deep into the universe to investigate a wide range of problems in astronomy and astrophysics. The aperture is a collection of 492 segmented mirrors. Precisely aligned, these segments will work as a single reflective surface of 30 m diameter. TMT will be 10 times the spatial resolution and 144 times the light collecting area of the Hubble Space Telescope. US, Japan, Canada and China are the other countries involved in the collaboration.

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