Issue 6 • December, 2006
Thirty Meter Telescope

Project Manager’s Corner: A Great Year
  Gary Sanders

I am sitting in a lounge at Vancouver airport thinking back over a great year for TMT. I’m returning to Pasadena after a very successful meeting of our Science Advisory Committee (SAC), described elsewhere in this issue by our SAC Chair, Paul Hickson of University of British Columbia. That meeting capped this great year.

Last January I began my series of Project Manager’s Corners. This has been my personal attempt, each month, to help you follow TMT openly and as it progresses. I began in January by looking back to the origins of the project, and I reported on our search for a mountain site, our science instruments, our tiniest and most challenging mirror. I described a major project milestone, our Conceptual Design Review.

In June, TMT took its public outreach up a notch and initiated our series of monthly Newscasts.


Science Nugget—The TMT "First-Light" Instruments

In mid-December, two dozen scientists and engineers from across the U.S., Canada and Japan converged on Vancouver for a special three-day meeting of the TMT Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). Despite hurricane-force winds that disrupted flights, damaged buildings, and left a quarter of a million people in the dark, the meeting went on. Under discussion was the scientific scope and vision of the TMT project.

Two years earlier, the SAC had laid out an ambitious plan for eight instruments and four adaptive optics systems that would enable the TMT to achieve its full potential. Now, with the benefit of many months of detailed engineering analysis and cost estimating by the project team, and several reviews by panels of independent experts, a choice had to be made. What would be the most effective set of "first-light" instruments—those available when the telescope first comes on line—that could fit within the construction budget?


Technology Nugget—Controlling all those Segments

In designing TMT, a major challenge is how to make the 738 hexagonal segments of the primary mirror work together to imitate a single, nearly perfect monolithic mirror. In detail, this is a very complex question that requires much more space to answer than available for this one article. But we can start the discussion by looking at a small slice of the big picture. This month, we take a close look at the actuators that control the primary mirror.

In Newscast Issues 4 and 5, TMT Project Scientist Jerry Nelson described the process used to fabricate individual segments and how each of the 738 segments can be thought of as a small piece of a large 30-meter diameter monolithic mirror. One might think that once the fabrication of all 738 segments is successfully completed, all that remains is to mount them in their correct positions on the telescope and "PRESTO!" we have a 30-meter primary mirror. Unfortunately, things aren’t nearly that simple; it turns out that the "correct position" is not easily defined nor is it "correct" all of the time.


Q & A with Brent Ellerbroek

Brent Ellerbroek is the group leader for Adaptive Optics (AO) for the TMT project. Before joining the TMT project office, Brent was the AO Manager for the Gemini telescopes.

Brent sat down recently with Doug Isbell to talk about the role of adaptive optics in the design of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Download Brent Ellerbroek Interview
[12:40 min. 11.59 MB MP3]

Project Office News

¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! TMT Visits Mexico
Richard Ellis, Pepe Franco and Mike BolteOne of the five potential TMT sites currently under testing is on San Pedro Martir (elevation 2800 meters) in Baja California. Continuing its sequence of visits to its potential site hosts, in November Mike Bolte and Richard Ellis of TMT visited Professor Jose "Pepe" Franco, Director of the Institute of Astronomy at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

Gary Sanders visits Palomar
The 5-meter Hale Telescope on Palomar Mountain was once the world’s largest telescope, but it eventually will be utterly dwarfed by the Thirty Meter Telescope. In late October, TMT Project Manager Gary Sanders came to Palomar and gave a talk on the TMT for the members of the Friends of Palomar Observatory.


Partner News—Full Canadian Funding for D&D Phase

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has awarded the TMT project with $6 million (Canadian) in funding, which in combination with matching funds from NRC-HIA and the universities of Toronto, British Columbia and Victoria, completes the Canadian commitment to provide $17.5 million (U.S.) for the design & development phase of the project. Previous awards originated from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Training, and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund.

Previous Issues

View the TMT Newscast Archive.

You have received this issue of the TMT Newscast because of your previous professional contact with the Thirty Meter Telescope Project, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) Inc., the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, or the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA).

TMT is supported in the United States by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the US National Science Foundation. Canadian funding is provided by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, the National Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund.

You can choose to unsubscribe from this newsletter using the links at the bottom of the message. Your e-mail address will not be shared with any third parties or external lists. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact

The TMT Newscast is a free email publication of the Thirty Meter Telescope project. It is for informational purposes only, and the information is subject to change without notice.

Subscribe | Unsubscribe

Copyright © 2007 Thirty Meter Telescope Project, Pasadena, CA