TMT consortium considers India for telescope

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India is now a second candidate location to replace Hawaii for the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Hanle in Ladakh has been short-listed as a prospective site by the TMT board following major hurdles in Mauna Kea, Hawaii – the first choice for the project. An international team is expected to visit Ladakh in a couple of months. … India is already building edge sensors, actuators and system support support assemblies, besides contributing to the software of TMT. India is expected to invest $212 million in the project.

Not only is India contributing technology and money to the telescope, institutes in the country are also participating in the consortium.

Two major scientific institutions – the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Bengaluru and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune – along with two government departments having working on the project since 2013. The department of science and technology (DST) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) are the government partners, while IIA is the nodal agency.

I think the odds continue to increase that TMT will abandon Hawaii, especially since the state government there continues to drag its feet.


  • Wayne

    It’s always the few malcontents (Hawaiian hipster types) that spoil it for us all.
    Hate to see the TMT people buckle, but can’t blame them for (potentially) fleeing to a friendlier environment.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Looks like a great site. The elevation is several hundred feet higher than Mauna Kea and it’s almost 13 degrees further north – a little bit further north of the Equator, in fact, than Cerro Tololo in Chile is south of it, which makes the two sites a more symmetrical pair. And, given that being “out in the sticks” in India is really being “out in the sticks,” I assume the light pollution situation might even be better than Hawaii also. That leaves the matter of consistent atmospheric clarity and predictable winds. Given that India already has a sizable telescope there, it would seem this site checks out well in these respects too.

    I’m in favor of increasing ties with India in pretty much every way. It looks as though our social justice warriors have unintentionally provided us a splendid opportunity to do just that in a big way. I say go to India, TMT, and never look back!

  • Tom Billings

    It’s certainly high enough. In fact, there are areas nearby that would put you nearly in the “dead zone” above 20,000 feet. The fact that there are other heavy astronomical instruments already being operated there gives some confidence that construction *can* be accomplished. The only place on Earth where astronomers would be wise to wear a space suit when they go outside??

  • LocalFluff

    India is the future. There can be no science or industry in countries ruled by stone age primitives who uneducated and superstitiously believe in ghosts. Once they’ve succeeded in destroying the eurasian society which generously feeds them today, they will descend into the starving poverty which they are able to achieve as a “society”, because they are all a bit daft, you know. The primitives should not be treated as grown ups. They need to be ruthlessly disregarded, that’s their only hope. They don’t understand what is good for themselves. They are destroying their own society. Best would be to stop them, but just abandoning them is of course more practical as things are with the government today.

  • Cotour

    What kind of Governor / Congressmen or Senators freely allows $1.47 BILLION DOLLARS to waltz away and out of their state and over to India? (any way you slice it, that’s a lot of money)

    And I think I remember that they were willing to disassemble some existing telescopes to make room for this new one to accommodate the concerns of the local people?

    More and more of American technology and high tech jobs purposefully pushed out of our country. We will all be “equal” soon, what a lofty goal. (sarcasm alert for the high IQ and sarcasm impaired)

  • Dick Eagleson

    Something else occured to me with respect to possible future coordinated observations from a TMT built at Hanle Ladukh India and the existing and future large instruments at Cerro Tololo Chile. In addition to being nearly symmetrical with respect to the equator, these two sites are also nearly 150 degrees apart in longitude. They are almost literally on opposite sides of the world. For celestial objects within the field of view of both sites, it might be possible to arrange hand-off, tag-teamed observing regimes that are continuous, or nearly so, given that daylight in one place corresponds fairly closely to night at the other. The Hawaii site can’t offer this potential advantage. The study of rare and transient astronomical phenomena, such as supernovae, could be considerably enhanced by an ability to maintain continuous coverage with first-rank observing instruments.

  • Hey, I think you’ve noted a very significant scientific reason for dumping Hawaii. In fact, this even suggests that the TMT consortium is probably beginning to thank the protesters a bit for making them give India a second look.

  • Edward

    Local Fluff wrote: ” The primitives should not be treated as grown ups.”

    Funny you should think so. They tend to be the students of liberal professors, who preach that people need a government to babysit them and tell them what to do and when — even to the point of mandating how they spend their own money.

    The primitives, themselves, think that people — including themselves — should not be treated as grownups who are able to run their own lives, hence the mandates. This is what makes them so primitive — too primitive to run their own lives in a modern, civilized society. Then they project their own inadequacies, fears, and hatreds onto the rest of us who *are* able to run our own lives adequately, fearlessly, and without hating others. (Don’t you just hate when that happens — yet hate only the occurrence and not the perpetrator?)

    Cotour wrote: “We will all be “equal” soon, what a lofty goal.”

    I suspect that the ruling class, as Orwell suggested, will end up being “more equal” than the rest of us. (If only I were being sarcastic, this would not seem so scary.)

  • Phill O

    “TMT consortium is probably beginning to thank the protesters a bit for making them give India a second look.”

    You are probably right. Think too of the seasonal shift of objects. The spring is the best time for galaxy hunting. Alberta (Canadian) weather does not cooperate but NM skies are clear. This is only 20 degrees longitude. 150 degrees apart in different hemispheres is a good thing!

  • Local Fluff

    “What kind of Governor / Congressmen or Senators freely allows $1.47 BILLION DOLLARS to waltz away and out of their state and over to India?”

    The ones who use political extortion in order to profit some of the money themselves personally? The primitives are really just victims used by professional political parasites. They stop investment projects until they get paid as much as they think they can come away with. They just hire some primitives for propaganda reasons. I would like to see other Hawaiian-Americans protest against this greedy corruption which is so destructive not only to the local economy but also to the progress of science in the world. But it is difficult to say no to money when you on the margin has very little influence anyway.

    The money is the curse, the ghosts is just made up in order to greedily gain other people’s money for nothing in exchange. I’m sure many peloponnesians would be proud to have the world’s greatest telescope on top of the mountain where they grew up. If the same building had been constructed for only, say, 1.4 Million (not Billion), then there would’ve been no protest in spite of the same “environmental” effect. Because the attack has nothing to do with protecting a holy site, it has all to do with parasitic political middlemen extorting money.

    I think that this kind of behavior needs to be talked about and called out for what it actually is: corruption and the destruction of both society and science. People need to speak up against this, it is only getting worse.

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