An important project for the global astronomy community, TMT is working collaboratively with the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) to develop a U.S.-Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP). Its mission is to strengthen scientific leadership by the U.S. community-at-large through access to extremely large telescopes in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, which will cover 100 percent of the night sky.
Earlier this year, TMT and GMT jointly presented their science and technical readiness to the U.S. National Academies Astro2020 panel. Chile is the site for GMT in the south and Maunakea is being considered as the primary site for TMT in the north. The panel will produce a series of recommendations for implementing a strategy and vision for the coming decade of U.S. Astronomy & Astrophysics frontier research and prioritize projects for future funding.
Also in collaboration with its US-ELTP partners, TMT has successfully submitted a Planning and Design Proposal to the NSF to help prepare for its entry into NSF’s major facilities review process: https://nationalastro.org/news/joint-statement-regarding-the-submission-of-the-planning-and-design-for-a-us-extremely-large-telescope-program-proposals-to-the-national-science-foundation/
TMT continues to assess a number of factors impacting its timeline and schedule. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in TMT’s partnership working from home around the world and it continues to present a public health threat as well as travel and logistical challenges. The project is currently focused on doing the work it can safely do in its partner countries.
“TMT will not initiate any on-site activities this year at Maunakea as the primary site or La Palma as the back-up site,” said Gordon Squires, Vice President for External Relations, TMT International Observatory. “We continue to do the work we can safely do in our partner countries.”