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Will Ladakh become an alternative site for world's largest telescope?

India Is Already Contributing To The Software Of TMT Apart From Building Edge Sensors, Actuators And System Support Assemblies. So, Chances Are Hawaii’s Loss May Now Become Ladakh’s Gain.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Bindiya Bhatt | Updated on: 04 May 2016, 10:11:35 AM
Will Ladakh become an alternative site for world's largest telescope?

New Delhi:

Alternative sites are being explored, including Hanle in India’s Ladakh, to install the 1.47-billion dollar Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) International Observatory, which the largest telescope project in the world. The reason for searching alternate sites is the protests in Hawaii, US by the locals who are opposing the installation of the Thirty Metre Telescope up at Mauna Kea.

It was previously reported that the TMT board had short-listed Hanle in Ladakh as a prospective site for the project. The project had been facing major hurdles in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, which is the first choice. The Supreme Court of Hawaii had in December 2015 cancelled the permit issued to TMT to construct the International Observatory after it was claimed that the plot in Mauna Kea was sacred. (Also read. NASA plans next manned mission to ISS including Sunita Williams in Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner)

India is already contributing to the software of TMT apart from building edge sensors, actuators and system support assemblies. So, chances are Hawaii’s loss may now become Ladakh’s gain.

“The construction was expected to start on Mauna Kea, Hawaii in 2015. However, it is now stalled due to the recent decision of the Supreme court of Hawaii revoking the construction permit on procedural grounds.”

“The State of Hawaii agencies are working on the permit process following the prescribed procedure by the court. TMT is pursuing the matter in consultation with the University of Hawaii (land lease holder) and other agencies. It seeks to construct TMT on Mauna Kea which is the preferred choice,” said Bacham Eswar Reddy, Programme Director. The alternate sites, both in the northern and southern hemispheres, include Chile, Hanle, Ladakh and others. (Also read. NASA releases coloured images of Pluto)

“It is expected that on-site civil work on the project may be delayed by about 18-24 months. However, work on telescope and observatory subsystems continues across the partnership,” Reddy added.

“The project is expected to improve employment opportunities for the local people besides development of the region. TMT being the largest optical and infrared telescope in the northern hemisphere will strengthen the domestic programme of the country in this field and lead to several discoveries, which will inspire future generations.

“The project will also help develop state-of-the-art high end technologies and expertise in the country,” an official of Ministry of Science and Technology said.

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First Published : 03 May 2016, 11:19:00 AM

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