HILO (BIVN) – The Thirty Meter Telescope is considered the future of astronomy, but what is the future of the Thirty Meter Telescope? TMT Executive Director Ed Stone takes the stand.
The TMT’s status as a $1.4 billion project in limbo was apparent during the cross-examination of Stone, the observatory’s Executive Director. Under questioning by opponents of the TMT who are participating in the proceeding, Stone explained how the TMT International Observatory’s (TIO) board has some hard decisions to make about whether or not to continue to pursue the ideal astronomical conditions found atop Mauna Kea, or to settle on a second site identified in the Canary Islands.
TIO is made up of Caltech, UC, the National Institutes of Natural Science of Japan, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Canadian National Research Council and the Indian Department of Science and Technology. Major funding has been provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.
In his written testimony, Stone said TIO members have spent approximately $327 million through June 30, 2016. Already the government of Japan has initiated procurement of telescope mirror blanks in Japan, Stone wrote.
“Following the approval of a permit,” Stone wrote, “construction on the TMT Observatory at Mauna Kea is slated to begin in April 2018, with completion of the TMT enclosure and telescope structure expected in 2024 and initial operations three years later.”