Joint Statement Regarding the Submission of the “Planning and Design for a US Extremely Large Telescope Program” Proposals to the National Science Foundation
12 August 2020
In collaboration with its US-ELTP partners, NSF’s NOIRLab has successfully submitted a Planning and Design Proposal to the NSF, see joint statement below.
The US Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP) is a joint endeavor of NOIRLab and the organizations building the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). Its mission is to strengthen scientific leadership by the US community-at-large through access to extremely large telescopes in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres with coverage of 100 percent of the night sky. The two-hemisphere system would provide the US science community with greater and more diverse research opportunities than could be achieved with a single telescope.
Joint statement from NSF’s NOIRLab, Giant Magellan Telescope Corporation and Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory:
At the end of May 2020, the partners of the US Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP) jointly submitted three Planning and Design proposals to the National Science Foundation (NSF). The US-ELTP partners include: NSF’s NOIRLab, managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), the Giant Magellan Telescope Corporation (GMTO), and the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory (TIO).
The recommendation of the National Academies’ Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics (Astro2020), which is currently expected in the first half of 2021, and the readiness of the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Thirty Meter Telescope to enter NSF’s major facilities review process would be important next steps. Nonetheless, the partners view the submission of these proposals as an important milestone in the evaluation of all aspects of the program.
The underlying US-ELTP concept presented to NSF as part of this proposal remains consistent with the vision the partners presented to the National Academies’ Astro2020’s Panel on Optical and Infrared Observations from the Ground in February 2020. The plan for the US-ELTP continues to be a two-hemisphere system of complementary ELT-class telescopes that would provide the US science community with access to 100% of the night sky to make the next generation of discoveries about our Universe. Chile is the proposed site for the Giant Magellan Telescope in the south, and for the north, Maunakea, Hawai‘i, USA, is the proposed primary site for the Thirty Meter Telescope, with La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain as the back-up site.
For information regarding the progress of TMT’s construction, see the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory (TIO) update about the project. As part of that message, a TIO spokesperson indicated that TMT will not initiate any on-site activities this year at Maunakea as the primary site or La Palma as the back-up site.
Visit the GMT website for information regarding the progress of GMT.
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