World's largest

Somebody’s loss is always somebody’s gain and Hawaii’s loss might turn out to be the huge gain for India as a new gem might get added to the list of the scientific achievements that India currently holds, the country may become one of the hosts to the world’s largest telescope project.

The telescope called the “Thirty Metre Telescope’ (TMT) is likely to be installed in Ladakh at the Hanle Village. Ladakh wasn’t the first choice for the installation of the telescope, the construction was going to start in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, which is estimated to be worth $1.47 billion (₹98.26 crores). But as per the verdict given by the Hawaii Supreme Court, the permit was cancelled to build the TMT in 2015. The reason for the cancellation was the land on which the project would commence was considered sacred for the community residing there.

TMT board started looking for alternatives that ended on Ladakh in a couple of months. In the upcoming few weeks, the international inspection team will be coming to visit Ladakh, their aim is to avoid the delay further as the state of Hawaii is looking permission renewal. The country’s Indian Astronomical Observatory is also developing the edge sensor actuators and system support assemblies apart from the software support to TMT.

India is expected to invest about $212 million in the TMT project and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Bengaluru and Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune are already being working on TMT project for around 3 years showing their active involvement. The board has decided one more prospective site along with Ladakh which is in Chile due to large amount of investment and challenges involved in it. Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Atomic Energy are the government agencies helping in the project.

The project is looking for the favorable and prospective site both in northern and southern hemispheres.

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  • Raj

    Instead of Ladakh which is inhospitable for more than 6 months a year it should be located in the Western ghats (anywhere from Kodaikanal to Munnar to the outskirts of Pune) which will make it accessible right throughout the year.

    • Vivek Nair

      The choice of location for the telescope is not based on the accessibility but rather visibility of the sky. Western ghats are one of the most populous regions in India, with high human development index. This makes it prone to light pollution, which would negatively impact the performance of the telescope.