US ELT Program Science

Key Science Programs

Building on foundations laid by the TMT and GMT Detailed Science Cases (see above), the US ELT Program is working with the US community-at-large to develop concepts for Key Science Programs (KSPs).  KSPs are envisioned as open collaborations that gather observers, theorists, and data scientists together to exploit significant investments of TMT and GMT observing time, from tens to a hundred or more nights. Some of these collaborations are expected to be international in nature. If well-justified by KSP plans and by community demand, we envisage that half or more of the open-access US-ELTP observing time available through NOIRLab would be used for KSPs.

In 2018, US community scientists were invited to participate in the development of Key Science Program concepts. These notional KSPs were prepared for presentation to NSF and to the Astro2020 Decadal Survey; many of the KSP concepts formed the basis of science white papers submitted to Astro2020. NOIRLab is also using these KSP concepts to inform the planning and design of user support services for the US-ELTP. The KSP concepts now under development may or may not be the actual KSPs executed in the future. Astronomy and astrophysics will continue to evolve rapidly during construction of GMT and TMT thanks to previous investments in space- and ground–based observatories, such as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, the James Webb Space Telescope, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, and the Nancy Grace Roman Space TelescopeThe actual KSPs to be executed will be selected by peer review before and during GMT and TMT science operations.

Discovery Science Programs

As richly illustrated by the GMT and TMT Science Books (see above), smaller-scale, focused Discovery Science Programs (DSPs) will be an important component of the overall GMT and TMT science programs.

Learn more about

Finding the ideal ground-based telescope location

Adaptive Optics


US ELT Program Brochure

US-ELTP Brochure

GMT and TMT Science Books

GMT Science Book TMT Detailed Science Case

AAS-235 brochure (January 2020)

US-ELTP Brochure

Telescopes and Instrumentation

GMT Science Book GMT Science Book

Updated: 27 December 2022

Updated on December 27, 2022, 12:30 pm