Pasadena, CA – Scientists recently attended the first joint TMT-GMT Science Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was held virtually to ensure the safety of all its members. The meeting was of historical importance, as it was the first of its kind to be commonly organized with the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Science Advisory Committee.
At the start of the virtual meeting, each SAC co-Chair introduced the participants and representatives from both international partnerships. “It was great to see all these scientists involved with the TMT & GMT, to connect and discuss the importance of building cooperation between our two projects,” said Mark Dickinson, Program scientist for the proposed US- Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP), and co-chair of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy.
The NSF's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab), together with TMT and GMT, have developed the US-ELTP proposal to provide the U.S. scientific community with the unique capability of conducting ELT-based science programs covering both hemispheres. With a large percentage of observing time on each of these two extremely large facilities, and access to their broad instrument suites, astronomers anywhere in the U.S. would be capable of conducting transformational science in astrophysics.
Detailed presentations of both telescope instrumentation roadmaps followed, with exciting discussions about the science programs that will be built upon the complementarity of sky coverage and instruments offered by the TMT and GMT. The operation plans and science policies envisioned for these two facilities were also discussed, with the aim to offer a uniform level of support and experience to all U.S. users of the GMT and TMT.
Both SACs agreed to establish regular communications and identify topics of discussions for future joint meetings. Astronomers from all partners’ communities will also be able to meet periodically in person during the annual TMT Science Forums and GMT Science Meetings.
The rest of the session was dedicated to a “TMT only” SAC meeting. Among many topics discussed was the organization of future webinars aimed at informing the entire TMT science community about the status of the project and the comparative characteristics of TMT’s baseline and alternate sites, Maunakea and La Palma, respectively. The meeting also addressed the organization of the 2021 TMT Science Forum, to be held on the University of British Columbia campus, in Vancouver, Canada, in May 2021.
For more information on the US-ELTP, please click: https://www.tmt.org/page/uselt .