The TMT Collaborative Board of Directors met in Beijing, China this week. The Board meets quarterly and this marks the first time the Board has gathered in China.
Guests included several Chinese officials, including Xu Guanhua, the former Minister of Science and Technology, Cao Guoying, the Vice Director General for the Department of Basic Research and Xu Ruiming, Director General of the Bureau of Frontier Sciences and Education, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In his remarks to the Board, Minister Xu described the frontier science questions that TMT will explore.
“Nearly one thousand exoplanet systems have been discovered. I hope the question ‘Are we alone in the universe?’ will be answered by TMT,” said Xu. “It is my sincere hope that TMT does this.”
TMT is an international partnership among institutions in the U.S., Canada, China, India and Japan. Marking the international flavor of the project, leadership meetings have rotated among the partner countries. In October 2012 the Board met for the first time in Tokyo, Japan, followed by a January 2013 meeting in New Dehli. India. In an important milestone in July 2013, the Board met in Hawaii and signed the TMT Master Agreement. The Master Agreement establishes a formal agreement amongst the international parties defining the project goals, establishing a governance structure and defining member party rights, obligations and benefits.
“TMT is a unique project. Never before in history has something of this magnitude been developed collaboratively by people from these nations,” said Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT Collaborative Board.
As TMT approaches the beginning of construction in 2014, Board meetings have expanded with many guests from the partners attending and contributing to the development of the international partnership agreements. During the latest meeting in Beijing, over 50 Board members and guests were in attendance, the largest meeting to date.
“We are sitting very close to the 2008 Olympic site, and so I would like to end by saying astronomy is shared by the whole human kind, we truly have only ‘One World, One Universe, One Dream.’ I wish TMT success in the pursuit of our common dreams of unraveling of the mystery of the Universe,” Xu added.
TMT is a collaboration of the California Institute of Technology, University of California, the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, a consortium of Chinese institutions led by the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and institutions in India supported by the Department of Science and Technology of India. Major funding has been provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.