The Thirty Meter Telescope, or TMT for short, has been earmarked for construction for some time now and finally after all the long delays, the project could be about to get under way in April.
Hawaii has agreed to provide a piece of land for the telescope, which is said to have a resolution ten times that of the Hubble telescope. The idea was orginally formed by Californian scientists back in the 1990s and now, all these years later, the idea has developed into a detailed plan.
The TMT is basically a mirror that is just short of 100-feet wide and is made up of just under 500 segments. Designed to detect light from the earliest stars so that scientists can learn more about dark matter, it will be situated on a dormant volcano called Mauna Kea and will be part of an astronomy park.
There were many opposers to the TMT being located there, claiming that the area was a summit conservation district and the telescope’s presence would harm the natural habitat of the wekiu bug. However, in February the University of Hawaii voted fifteen to one, approving the lease of the land at a cost of $1 million a year for the next three decades.
Although everything seems set to go, there is a concern over the funding, with the total amount needed to finish the project not yet fully received. So far $120 million has been spent just on designing the TMT. The estimated cost of the complete project is said to be around $970 million. Yet despite not having all the funds in place, it looks as though construction of the TMT will begin anyway.
However it is not likely that we will see the finished TMT anytime soon, if the track record of project delays are anything to go by.
[Image via CosmicDiary.org]