Last night I went to hear Dr. Luc Simard speak about the new Thirty Meter Telescope that is in development. This telescope will have a 30-metre diameter primary mirror and will provide nine times the collecting area of today’s largest optical telescopes. It will enable scientists to observe objects nine-times fainter than existing 10 metre telescopes in an equal amount of time.
The Thirty Meter Telescope will give astronomers the clearest and deepest picture of the Universe ever. This telescope will push the frontier of technology, fully integrating the latest innovations in precision control, segmented mirror design, and adaptive optics to correct for the blurring effects of Earth’s atmosphere. When combined with the unprecedented light-collecting area of the primary mirror, TMT will be the most capable and sophisticated telescope ever constructed.
Relative to the Hubble Space Telescope, TMT will have 156 times the collecting area and more than a factor of 10 better spatial resolution at near-infrared and longer wavelengths.
The University of Lethbridge is contributing to the project, and my friend, Richard Querel, does some pretty interesting research as part of the team headed by Dr. David Naylor. They have developed a very powerful laser device which calculates atmospheric conditions and can be used to calibrate the telescope to compensate for things like humidity and smog.
See a video fly through of the proposed TMT facility which will be built in either Chile or Hawaii and should be operational by 2018.