TMT is an immense design project. As the telescope and its instruments are being developed simultaneously
unique challenges are introduced. Usually when a design team is developing an instrument, the telescope that is
required already exists. Any information the design team needs about the performance of the telescope can
obtained. In this respect, the TMT is challenging because the telescope is in the developmental stages as well. Design teams are therefore
forced to make flexible designs to allow room for
maneuverability should the telescope perform in any way which
is even slightly different than initially anticipated. However,
developing the instruments and telescope simultaneously has
advantages as well; instrument design can give important feedback to the telescope design and cross-requirements may be
Illustration of the telescope structure without its protective enclosure.
Image Credit: TMT Project
The design process involves many steps:
Integration and testing
Each step produces a report and there are many reviews where a committee looks over the completed reports to offer
suggestions, guidance and other feedback.
or construction phase is scheduled to begin in April of 2009. Industries will be involved in this step, but contracts have not
yet been awarded with the exception of Empire Dynamic Structures, which
has played a critical role in the development of the TMTís
Calotte enclosure. First light (commissioning) will occur in 2018.
Each instrument is projected to cost between $20-50 million and
will be very large (meters in size and weighing many tons).
Each one is specialized to certain tasks so as to
satisfy the science requirements set out by the Science Advisory Council. The telescope
itself is also a challenge, requiring
cutting-edge developments in optics, computer systems and many other fields.
In this respect astronomy in general has always demanded the
highest technological performance and the TMT is just one
more technological driving force.
More detailed information on each of the design aspects can be found on the following pages: