Issue 17 • October/November, 2008
Thirty Meter Telescope

Project Manager's Corner: TMT Passes Chilean Environmental Review
 
 Gary H. Sanders, TMT Project Manager

Gary SandersOur Chilean environmental assessment has been accepted.

Optical telescopes need clear windows to the sky. Clear windows mean high mountains. We have frequently written about the TMT quest for a site [-1-] [-2-] [-3-]. We have written about all of the technical testing of "seeing," wind speeds, water vapor, cloud cover and temperature cycles. And we described the conclusion that all 5 sites tested by TMT were excellent and that the TMT Board has identified two sites for further study with selection of the preferred alternative planned in summer 2009. The sites are Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii and Cerro Armazones in the Antofagasta region of northern Chile.

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TMT Hawai'i Environmental Impact Statement Process
 Sandra Dawson , TMT Site Studies Manager

The TMT project has been very busy in Hawai'i during the past several months, and the hectic pace will continue through next summer.

To build TMT in either of the two considered sites, Mauna Kea in Hawai'i or Cerro Armazones in Chile, environmental impacts of the construction and operation of the telescope must be assessed and these assessments are done with input from the public and regulatory agencies. We are currently doing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in Hawai'i. This EIS will consider all potentially significant impacts, both positive and negative, of constructing and operating TMT on Mauna Kea. The EIS will also look at impacts at Cerro Armazones.

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Keck Telescope and "Cosmic Lens" Team-up to Demonstrate Eventual Power of Thirty Meter Telescope

PASADENA, Calif.--Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and their colleagues used a rare cosmic alignment and modern adaptive optics to image a distant galaxy with similar exquisite resolution promised by the future Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). This achievement provided detailed insight into the nature of a young star-forming galaxy as it appeared only two billion years after the Big Bang, and determined how that galaxy may eventually evolve to become a system like our own Milky Way.

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Focus On: Closing Out Site Testing for TMT
  Matthias Schoeck, Image Quality Scientist, TMT

October 2008 was a happy month for the TMT Site Testing Team. With the take-down of the site testing equipment from Tolonchar, it marked the end of the TMT site testing work and the successful conclusion of arguably the most extensive and rigorous astronomical site survey done to date.

The work does not stop there, of course. TMT continues to operate one set of equipment in order to observe long-term trends. The equipment might also be used in the future as a platform to test potential new site characterization instruments and methods. We also are keeping busy writing up all the results and experiences gathered for the scientific literature, and will continue to analyze the data in different ways to provide input for the TMT design.

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Technology Nugget: TMT Requirements Engineering
  Scott Roberts

As Yogi Berra once said, "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there." Indeed, many engineering projects have faltered because their end goal had not been well defined. Requirements engineering is the activity of defining clearly what a system must accomplish, and determining when it has been accomplished. In engineering projects we refer to the final product, in our case the TMT observatory, as the system, and the major components, such as the primary mirror, as the subsystems. By thoroughly defining the desired behavior of the system and subsystems through a set of engineering requirements, we can be sure that our end goal is clear. In addition, by defining the tests we will perform to verify that the system meets its requirements we have a method of finding out when we are "there."

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Q & A with Andrea Ghez

UCLA's Andrea Ghaz TMT Science Advisory Committee member and UCLA professor of physics Andrea Ghez has been selected as a 2008 MacArthur Fellow for 2008. Ghez is among 25 new recipients of the annual "genius" fellowship, each of whom will receive $500,000 in unrestricted support over the next five years to use as they see fit.

Andrea was interviewed by phone by Charles Blue.

Download Interview
[7:30 min. 7MB MP3]

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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.

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