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World’s largest optical telescope construction to begin next year

New Delhi Jan 24 (): A five-nation consortium which includes India is expected to start construction of the world’s largest optical telescope next year, and the Indian scientists are making substantial contribution in developing its important components.

Edward Stone, Vice chairman of thirty-metre-telescope (TMT) Governing Board said that the TMT will be 81 times more sensitive than the current telescopes of its kind.

Space scientists expect the TMT will be very much beneficial to observe the most distant and faintest galaxies of the universe, the planets around distant stars, and understand the beginning of solar system better.

India is expected to contribute 10 per cent of the 1.4 billion dollars for this thirty-metre-telescope (TMT) planned by this consortium. Indian scientists have asked the contribution from Union government to join this international plan for building this world’s most advanced telescope.

TMT Project Manager Gary Sanders told the reporters after the meeting that it is expected to begin construction in 2014 and see first starlight by 2021.

The TMT Governing Board meeting that concluded here last evening had studied the status of the TMT project and the contributions of partner nations – US, India, Japan, China and Canada.

TMT Project Manager said that 15 per cent of the 492 mirror segments, each 1.44 m in size, will be fabricated in India. He also said that the observatory control software would also be part of India’s contribution. India will also fabricate edge sensors, tip and tilt of the segments which can be oriented snugly to serve as a single giant mirror.

The TMT will be positioned just below the summit of Mauna Kea on an island of Hawaii at an elevation of about 4,050 metres.

The departments of science and technology and atomic energy have indicated their intention to jointly contribute for the project, however the final government approval has not yet come.

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