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India wants to help build most advanced optical telescope

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INDIA HAS offered to help build one of the world’s most advanced optical telescopes. The Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) has sent a letter of interest stating that it wants to become a partner in the team that will build the Thirty-Metre Telescope (TMT) in California, US. According to IIA Director Prof. Siraj Hasan, TMT is a next-generation astronomical observatory that would operate from Hawaii. It would be among the three mega optical telescopes being built at present, the other two being the European Extremely Large Telescope, and the Giant Magellan Telescope. These are expected to be ready around 2020-2024, Prof. Hasan said. The TMT project began in 2003 through a partnership between the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), the University of California (UC), and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). India is currently part of the project as an observer. If India became part of the team, it would build components, like mirrors, for the telescope, he said. However, it could take at least two years for India to become a partner. When completed, TMT is expected to be able to observe galaxies and stars at the edge of the universe.

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