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US-ELT Program

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The US Extremely Large Telescope Program illustration  -  Image Credit: GMTO/NOIRLab/TIO


US-ELTP Astro2020 Brochure (PDF 4.9mb)

The US ELT Program

The National Science Foundation’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab), the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization, and the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory (TIO) are working collaboratively to develop a U.S. Extremely Large Telescope Program.

The vision of the U.S. Extremely Large Telescope Program is to allow scientists to look more deeply and more precisely into the night sky than ever before. The dual hemisphere model will provide access to 100 percent of the night sky to make the next generation of discoveries about our universe.

USELT strategy

The US-ELT Program will provide access to all night time sky and a unique suite of instruments to the US science community.

The combined apertures of TMT and Giant Magellan Telescope are comparable to that of the single European ELT, but for many scientific programs, access to two telescopes and a diverse instrument suite offers clear advantages. All-sky coverage enables observation of relatively rare phenomena (e.g., the number of observable rocky planets in the habitable zone is predicted to be small), unique targets in each hemisphere (e.g., Magellanic Clouds in the Southern Hemisphere, Andromeda group galaxies in the North), and key survey fields with unique multiwavelength data sets (e.g., GOODS-North and -South; LSST Deep Drilling fields; the Kepler main survey field; ecliptic pole deep survey regions for TESS, Euclid, WFIRST and JWST).

USELT Sky Coverage

Sky coverage provided by the bi-hemispheric US-ELT Program

Together, Giant Magellan Telescope and TMT will access the full celestial sphere, with roughly 50% sky overlap allowing their complementary instrument suites to be used for joint or even simultaneous investigation of many objects. In addition to separation in latitude, their different longitudes create valuable opportunities for time-domain research, especially for rapidly changing phenomena that benefit from high-cadence observations. Finally, these two platforms will offer a greater variety of instrumentation than would be available on a single telescope, and more observing hours to support long term variability and large scale programs that would otherwise require many years to complete.