Ladakh a potential alternate site for largest telescope

Ladakh a potential alternate site for largest telescope

Ladakh a potential alternate site for largest telescope

 The protests in Hawaii in the US against the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project, the largest to be ever built, may be India's gain as alternate sites are being explored which includes Hanle in Ladakh.

The project, aimed at exploring the universe, was to come up at Mauna Kea in Hawaii in the US. But the protests by the locals and indigenous population has stalled the project.

"Due to a recent decision of the Supreme Court of Hawaii revoking the construction permit on procedural grounds, the construction work at this site is stalled. Efforts are being made by TMT authorities to resolve the matter which is expected to take some time.

"However, keeping in view the huge investments and efforts involved in this project, alternate sites are being explored both in northern and southern hemisphere. Hanle in Ladkah is one of the potential alternate sites for this project which is being evaluated for hosting the telescope," Y S Chowdary, Minister of State for Science and Technology said in a written response to a question in Rajya Sabha.

The other alternate site which is being considered is in Chile.
"The State of Hawaii agencies are working on the permit process following the prescribed procedure by the court. TMT is pursuing the matter in consultation with the University of Hawaii (land lease holder) and other agencies. Given the large investments that have already been made and committed, project partners are also looking at alternate sites both in the northern and southern hemispheres. These include sites in Chile, Hanle in Ladakh and others which are all being evaluated for technical and logistical suitability.

"It is expected that on-site civil work on the project may be delayed by about 18-24 months. However, work on telescope and observatory subsystems continues across the partnership," said Bacham Eswar Reddy, Programme Director.

India is a 10 per cent partner in the TMT project, which includes China, Japan, Canada and the US. On the Indian side, the project is being handled by the Ministry of Science and Technology and Department of Atomic Energy.

If the programme comes to India, it will open several doors.
"The project shall improve employment opportunities for the local people besides development of the region. TMT being the largest optical and infrared telescope in the northern hemisphere will strengthen the domestic programme of the country in this field and lead to several discoveries, which will inspire future generations.

"The project will also help develop state-of-the-art high end technologies and expertise in the country," Chowdary added.

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