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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Thirty Meter Telescope Gets Small Grant to Make Big Plans
19 March 2013 5:30 pm
The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), a giant observatory that astronomers hope to build by the end of this decade, is expected to cost at least $1 billion. So a grant of $1.25 million may seem miniscule. Nonetheless, the backers of TMT are viewing a new 5-year, $250,000-per-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a significant milestone.
Until a few years ago, planners of TMT and its rival project in the United States—the 24.5-meter Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) were hoping to get the U.S. government to bear a sizable portion of their respective project costs. But in December 2011, NSF announced that there was no money available to support construction of either project until the mid-2020s. However, NSF put out a solicitation for proposals offering $1.25 million for the development of a public-private partnership plan that could lead to the construction of a large telescope, should NSF be able to provide funds in the future.
The GMT partnership, which is led by the Carnegie Observatories and other institutions, announced in April that it would not make a bid for the NSF grant. That effectively left TMT as the sole contender for the NSF award. TMT announced on Sunday that it had been awarded the grant.
The award is intended to help TMT plan how the project will partner with other institutions and engage the broader U.S. astronomical community. "The NSF award is a key development in our vision for TMT," said Henry Yang, chancellor of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and chair of the TMT Collaborative Board, in a press statement. "The full promise of this revolutionary telescope will be realizable with the engagement of the national astronomical community." NSF's backing could also open the door for future funding for TMT from the agency, if not for construction, then at least for annual operations. NSF officials, however, have made it clear that this award does not imply a future commitment.
TMT's proponents expect to start construction at a site in Hawaii in 2014. Site preparation for GMT, which will be built in Chile, has already begun. Meanwhile, the European Southern Observatory and its partners are moving ahead with a third plan for a giant telescope, the 39.3-meter European Extremely Large Telescope, also in Chile.