Thirty Meter Telescope

Astronomy's next generation observatory.



Our goal is to construct the Thirty Meter Telescope and bring it into operation in the next decade. The astronomy community, through its “decadal survey” of astronomy in 2001, called for this as the highest-priority large new project for ground-based astronomy.

By accomplishing this goal, TMT will be able to operate at the same time as the James Webb Space Telescope, due to be launched later this decade. Thus, TMT would be able to work in a complementary way with the Webb telescope, just as the Keck observatory has worked with the Hubble Space Telescope, combining the different discovery and study capabilities of each system.

We are now in a design and development phase intended to bring the TMT project to readiness to start construction, depending upon the availability of construction funding from public and private sources.

Assuming that our funding is received when needed, our pace is set by technology development and design, here is the current project timeline:

June 2003

Project partnership between ACURA, Caltech and UC formed

October and December 2003

Moore Foundation awards $35 million for design work in two awards to Caltech/UC

April 2004

Project Office established in Pasadena

June 2004

Science Requirements Document adopted by project

October 2004

Telescope Reference Design established

November 2004

Adaptive Optics and Instrument Reference Design established

February 2005

Call for astronomy community proposals for TMT instruments

February 2005

ACURA awarded $10 million Canadian for design of TMT

March 2006

Instrument proposals reviewed

May 2006

Conceptual Design Review passed

September 2006

Cost Review passed

June 2007

Construction/Preconstruction Phase Proposal Review

July 2007

Site Testing Review

June 2009

Preliminary Design Review

June 2010

Final Design/Construction Readiness Review

March 2013

The U.S. National Science Foundation awards a partnership-planning grant to TMT

April 2013

Hawaiian Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) grants a permit to Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project to build and operate the next-generation observatory

July 2013

TMT Master Agreement signed by all partners


Construction begins


TMT Enclosure and structure complete


First science