BANGALORE: If everything goes as planned, India will have a 10 per cent share in the world’s most advanced optical telescope ‘The Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT). Prof Siraj Hasan, Director, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, said that he has written to the TMT Observatory Corporation asking for India to be made a partner in the $100 million project.
“There are three mega optical telescopes being built that will be ready around 2020-2024. One is them is the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) and the third one is the TMT. We have sent a letter of interest stating that we want to be partners in the project,” said Prof Hasan.
As of now, a consortium of Indian Astronomical Research Institutes (one of which is the Indian Institute of Astrophysics) is currently an observer in the project. Other partners include the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), the University of California (UC) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
He added that the Department of Science and Technology will become a 10 per cent partner if the modalities are worked out. “If all goes as planned, then India will contribute to the project by building critical components such as mirrors and accelerators that will go into the telescope,” he said, adding that it might take up to two years for India to become an official partner.
When asked about the funding for India’s participation in the TMT, he said: “The funding for this will be hopefully covered in the 12th Five Year Plan. We are optimistic that an allocation is made towards this project,” he said adding that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent mention of doubling investment into science research was a good sign.
The TMT telescope, whose work began in 2003, will reportedly be able to observe galaxies and stars at the edge of the universe. “It has a huge collecting area. We will get to see extra solar planets and capture images of other planets the size of the Earth. It will also be able to give us a glimpse of a history of our 13.7 billion year old universe,” he said.