Following protests in Hawaii regarding construction, Hanle, in Ladakh, may become home to the world’s largest telescope. The proposed Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) project sparked protests among the locals in Mauna Kea, in Hawaii, causing the project to halt while alternative sites for TMT project to take root. “The construction was expected to start on Mauna Kea, Hawaii in 2015. However, it is now stalled due to the recent decision of the Supreme court of Hawaii revoking the construction permit on procedural grounds.
“The State of Hawaii agencies are working on the permit process following the prescribed procedure by the court. TMT is pursuing the matter in consultation with the University of Hawaii (land lease holder) and other agencies. It seeks to construct TMT on Mauna Kea which is the preferred choice,” stated Bacham Eswar Reddy, Programme Director., as reported by the Times of India.
With an aim to explore the universe, the site at which TMT will be located has quite a lot to gain economically, as well as in its scientific value. While the procedures at Hawaii are being looked over the partners of the project have begun look at sites which can serve as alternate locations for TMT. Being evaluated for suitability in technical and logistics aspects, and Hanle, Ladakh, is among the shortlisted locations scouted for the construction of the observatory. As per TOI’s report, an international team is expected in Ladakh in a few months.
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While prospective sites are being looked at in both the northern and southern hemisphere, India has already begun preparations of edge sensors, actuators and system support assemblies, besides contributing to the software of TMT, and is even expected to invest a whopping $212 million into the project. India is a ten percent partner in the project, being handled by the Ministry of Science and Technology and Department of Atomic Energy. If India is selected as the site of the TMT Project, it is said to be a game changer with tremendous opportunities: “The project is expected to improve employment opportunities for the local people besides development of the region. TMT being the largest optical and infrared telescope in the northern hemisphere will strengthen the domestic programme of the country in this field and lead to several discoveries, which will inspire future generations.