India Signs TMT Development Agreement
On 2nd Dec 2014, Science and Technology Department of India signed a multilateral agreement admitting India‘s participation in the development of the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) in Hawaii. India has agreed to spend Rs. 1299.8 crores over the next decade for this project. The telescope is expected to be completed by 2024.
Institutions from the United States of America, Canada, Japan and China are also participating in the construction of the world’s largest telescope on Mount Mauna Kea. This telescope, 4207 metres above sea level, may cost more than 1.47 billion US dollars.
TMT will contain 492 hexagonal mirror segments of 82 different kinds. These will behave like a single mirror with an aperture of 30 metre diameter. This large collecting area of 650 square metres is thrice as sensitive as the Hubble Space Telescope. India’s role will primarily be to create the control systems and software that keep the mirrors aligned and collects the data. These will be manufactured by General Optics (Asia) in Puducherry, Avasarala Technolgies and Godrej in Bengaluru respectively.
India will also manufacture 100 aspherical mirror segments in Hoskote, near Bengaluru. These thin glass slabs made in Japan have minimal expansion when heated. Indian scienticts will apply a protective layer and a reflective coating using technology from Caltech.
Through it scientists hope to find answers to fundamental questions about the universe. These include, how and when the first galaxies were formed, does life exist outside the Earth, the constitution of black holes and the nature of the universe’s acceleration.
Besides learning about the universe, India will gain the technology to manufacture fine aspherical mirror segments from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). According to experts, this technology will form the basis of the next generation of spy satellites. They can resolve structures up to the size of man walking on the Earth.