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NSB Announces Support Plans for US-ELTP

The Thirty Meter Telescope

The National Science Board (NSB) recently issued a statement recognizing the US Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP) as the “top recommendation for NSF’s ground-based initiatives” and affirming that “the Board stands ready to help the [NSF] agency meet this important, ambitious, and visionary goal for U.S. science and leadership.”

The NSB also asked the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a process to select one telescope to consider for future funding. This move recognizes the transformational science of the U.S. Extremely Large Telescope program, of which the TMT International Observatory (TIO) a part, and balances infrastructure investments across all NSF priorities.

We are grateful for the funding the NSF has provided for design and development of the Thirty Meter Telescope. We look forward to continuing to advance the NSB’s Vision 2030, to expanding scientific discovery, and supporting a community-based model of astronomy in Hawaiʻi that is dedicated to respect, inclusion, and stewardship.

The TIO partners have committed cash and in-kind contributions valued at $2.0B.  While the precise cost will depend on the construction schedule, we are confident we could complete TMT with the NSF funding being discussed at the National Science Board.

The preferred site for TMT is Maunakea, Hawai’i, whose outstanding conditions for astronomy will allow TMT to reach exceptional levels of sensitivity and precision to detect subtle but important observational signs of life on planets around nearby stars or clues to the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Recently, TIO celebrated the polishing of its 100th mirror segment. TIO’s mirror segments build upon successful technology created for the W. M. Keck Observatory. Scaling and advancing the Keck technology, TIO partners are developing innovative manufacturing techniques to achieve unparalleled levels of mirror precision and performance. 






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