The telescope optical design is a folded Ritchey-Chrétien. Both the primary and secondary mirrors are hyperboloidal, and together they form a well-corrected focus. The tertiary mirror is used to fold and steer the light path so that the science beam can be delivered to any of eight instruments that will be mounted on the two main Nasmyth platfoms. The image is formed 20 meters from the center of the tertiary mirror. The focal ratio of the telescope is f/15.
The first light Adaptive Optics (AO) architecture for the TMT has been defined to provide near-diffraction-limited wavefront quality and high sky coverage in the near infra-red (IR) for the first TMT science instruments IRIS and IRMS. NFIRAOS is an order 60 x 60 laser guide star (LGS) multi-conjugate AO (MCAO) system, which provides uniform, diffraction-limited performance in the J, H, and K bands over 34 x 34 arc sec fields with 50 per cent sky coverage at the galactic pole, as required to support the TMT science cases.
TMT is a complex system-of-systems. As a result, the telescope controls are responsible for over 30,000 input/output channels and nearly 12,000 controlled degrees of freedom. This includes controlling the pointing and tracking of the mount, the position, tilt and active optics shape control of the primary, secondary and tertiary mirrors, the alignment and phasing system, the wavefront sensors built into the instruments, and coordinating the motions of the enclosure.