India, co-builder of Hawaii telescope, wants it shifted out of proposed site
From The Hindu, Jan 21, 2020 (excerpts)
…India, a partner in the construction of one of the largest telescopes in the world, has said it wants the project to be moved out of the proposed site at Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii….
“India’s position has been clear. We would like the project to move to an alternate site if all the procedures and permits there are in place,” Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, told The Hindu. “The difficulty is that even if construction [in Mauna Kea] were to go ahead, there could be future agitations,” he added.
Protests at the site last year saw scientists unable to access other telescope facilities in Mauna Kea. The project has been delayed by nearly five years and should have begun operations by 2025. India has committed $200 million, which is about a tenth of the proposed cost. The telescope needs 492 precisely polished mirrors and India is to contribute 83 of them. The project delay has meant that these manufacturing contracts have also been delayed….
Canada, the United States, China and Japan are the other — and more significant — partners in terms of the monetary and infrastructural aspects of the TMT. The level of contribution determines the amount of viewing time, or slots, that the member-countries’ scientists get on the machine. Thus India, in a given year, stands to get 10% of the available slots; any downtime could potentially eat into those.
Representatives from member countries are expected to convene in Los Angeles in February to decide on project modalities. “By this year, we have to take a firm call on where the project has to be located,” said Eswar Reddy, Programme Director, India-TMT....
read … The Hindu
* * * * *
Astronomers leave Hawaii with slim hope for big telescope
From the Times of Higher Education Jan 21, 2020 (excerpt)
… “I am not hopeful about TMT,” Megan Donahue, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Michigan State University, and president of the American Astronomical Society, conceded after her association’s annual conference this month in Honolulu. “I don’t think there was any tangible progress.”…
The leading candidate site to replace Hawaii for the TMT, if an agreement cannot be reached, is the Canary Islands. That location, however, suffers from problems including high levels of water vapour that would preclude some types of important observations, Professor Donahue said.
Hawaii has set a goal of starting TMT construction by September 2021. But TMT leaders have warned that they will need to make a decision far sooner than that – either beginning work at Mauna Kea, moving to the Canaries or abandoning the project altogether….
read .. Astronomers leave Hawaii with slim hope for big telescope
SA: A TMT partner in India wants the telescope to be built in Canary Islands
SA: TMT partner sends grim message