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Adaptive Thirty Meter Telescope Sees Progress

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the thats-a-whole-lotta-space dept.

Space 61

Hugh Pickens writes "Caltech and the University of California have been making progress toward the development and construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) with the recent $200 million commitment from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The core of the TMT Observatory will be a wide-field, alt-az Ritchey-Chretien telescope with a 492 segment, 30 meter diameter primary mirror, a fully active secondary mirror and an articulated tertiary mirror. TMT will be the first ground-based astronomy telescope designed with adaptive optics as an integral system element that will sense atmospheric turbulence in real-time, correct the optical beam of the telescope to remove its effect, and enable true diffraction-limited imaging on the ground. TMT will have 144 times the collecting area of the Hubble Space Telescope and a spatial resolution at near-infrared and longer wavelengths more than ten times better, equivalent to observing above the Earth's atmosphere for many observations at a fraction of the cost of a space-based observatory. TMT will reach further and see more clearly than previous telescopes by a factor of 10 to 100 depending on the observation and will be a fundamental tool for the investigation of large-scale structure in the young universe including the era in which most of the stars and heavy elements were formed."

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Sure, they build 30-meter telescopes (2, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624047)

And I can't even find a decent pair of binoculars.

Re:Sure, they build 30-meter telescopes (2, Informative)

E-Lad (1262) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624353)

If you're serious, then I might suggest to you a pair of Fujinon 7x50's.

Re:Sure, they build 30-meter telescopes (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624405)

I wasn't, but now I am. Thanks!

Re:Sure, they build 30-meter telescopes (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21625987)

>> TMT will have 144 times the collecting area of the Hubble Space Telescope...

That's [a] gross! (sorry - had to be done or I'd be thinking about it all day)

Progress? (1)

Bazman (4849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624051)

You don't mean the Russian spacecraft of that name then...

Yes, But (1)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624055)

All that fancy schmancy adaptve optics will still suck when it's raining.

Re:Yes, But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21624675)

All that fancy schmancy adaptve optics will still suck when it's raining.

It doesn't rain very often in West Texas. If you made your snarky comment out of a misguided need to defend the Hubble, you should have mentioned UV or other frequencies you can't image from the ground.

Re:Yes, But (1)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21627121)

All that fancy schmancy adaptve optics will still suck when it's raining.
It doesn't rain very often in West Texas. If you made your snarky comment out of a misguided need to defend the Hubble, you should have mentioned UV or other frequencies you can't image from the ground.
Did you REALLY miss the humor in my remark? or were you trolling?

I'm impressed as hell with the adaptive optics in the new Scope. Adjusting for turbulence and refraction is impressive all by itself, doing it realtime is just short of magic.

Re:Yes, But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21625079)

which is also why TMT is likely to be built on Cerro Armazones, in the middle of the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile. That mountain is just a few km from Cerro Paranal, where ESO has built the Very Large Telescope (4x 8.2m + 4x 1.8m). Atacama is one of the driest places on Earth. Observations can take place 330nights per year!

Re:Yes, But (2, Funny)

SquirrelsUnite (1179759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21632573)

Or in the dark...

Adaptive Thirty Meter Telescope Sees Progress... (1)

thekm (622569) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624123)

...I wonder what progress looks like through a thirty meter telescope?



They should post the pics so we can all see, unless it's bad news... I don't think I want to see bad news today even if it is through a thirty meter telescope.

Re:Adaptive Thirty Meter Telescope Sees Progress.. (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21625201)

I predict they'll find out that all the stars in the galactic core went nova some millions of years ago in a vast chain reaction ... and that the resulting blast wave will reach Earth about 30,000 years from now. Better start looking around ... I hear real estate in the Lesser Magellanic Cloud is a good buy this time of year.

Re:Adaptive Thirty Meter Telescope Sees Progress.. (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21626109)

Bah, by the time the blast wave reaches us, we'll be able to shield all our systems with giant statis fields. :)

Re:Adaptive Thirty Meter Telescope Sees Progress.. (1)

makuabob (1035076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21696164)

Well, the Rooskies didn't have "Progress" then, but I worked at a DoD observatory where that was exactly what we did. Meaning, we geared up the 'scopes to watch the Russian & Chinese spacecraft (and, maybe, 'illuminate' them once in a while, or bounce a laser off the reflectors WE left on the moon).

You didn't need a 30 meter telescope to look at something only 90 miles away--straight up! Can't really mention which 'scopes but there are images of them on the web. They watched Kosmonauts working outside of Mir,... or whatever was up back in the '70s. (Oops! Did I say "scopes"? I meant "observatory"!)

Hell! At 90 miles, and with a thirty-meter mirror, the sparks of the static discharge from pulling your socks apart would blow out the sensors on their experiments! Not that the Russians were allowed to wear socks!...

Stupid telescope names (5, Interesting)

gumpish (682245) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624193)

It's nice to see a telescope with an OBJECTIVE, QUANTIFIABLE name.

Just look at some of these idiotic names for serious telescopes:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Very_Large_Telescope [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_Magellan_Telescope [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Extremely_Large_Telescope [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overwhelmingly_Large_Telescope [wikipedia.org]

Terms like "Large" and "Giant" don't really mean very fucking much, do they? Seems like astronomy caught more of the frat types than the other sciences.

Re:Stupid telescope names (1)

gammaraybuster (913268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624535)

As compared to what? The Large Hadron Collider? The Supercollider? How about the Titanic or the Great Wall of China?

I happen to like these names. This is astronomy. The study of very large, huge, colossal, inconceivably gigantic structures and scales. It's very much like the exponential growth in the size of electronic storage devices. I get a similar feeling when I ponder these concepts.

If you follow the development of modern telescopes, they are in fact quite descriptive, in a relative way. If you're interested enough to know how big they are, just go to their web site to find the information you want. After all, this is the 21st century, man.

Re:Stupid telescope names (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21628297)

Am I the only one that read that first as "The Large Hardon Collider?"

Re:Stupid telescope names (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21636357)

Nope... and I rather consistently spell it that way when chatting about it with a girl I know who works there. She doesn't appear to mind.

Re:Stupid telescope names (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21624569)

Between your post and your sig, it's clear that you're super anal-retentive.

Oops, I mean a very big nitpicker.

Sorry, to be more precise, a member of the most 0.17532% pedantic segment of the population.

Re:Stupid telescope names (4, Funny)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624797)

Seems like someone is trying hard to overcompensate some inadequacy...
"Why yes, I DO operate the Ginormousely Absurd You-Can't-Believe-How-Fucking-Huge-It-Is Oversized-By-Any-Reasonable-Standard-Of-Measurement-And-By-Most-Unreasonable-Ones-As-Well Motherfucking Large Telescope"

Re:Stupid telescope names (1)

chris_sawtell (10326) | more than 6 years ago | (#21629413)

Somebody's been reading too many 'enlargement' spams.

Re:Stupid telescope names (1)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | more than 6 years ago | (#21625139)

Very, extremely, and overwhelmingly funny post. I give it a 5.

Re:Stupid telescope names (1)

arktemplar (1060050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21625153)

yes, but then every field has it's own set. Electronics for example has - Large Scale Integration, Very Large Scale Integration, then the new one seems to be Ultra Large Scale Integration. I mean come on ... , let them have their fun.

Re:Stupid telescope names (1)

Saboo (1190071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21625257)

This has been said before somewhere, but the nice thing about choosing TMT as an acronym is that it can become 'Twenty', 'Ten', or even 'Two Meter Telescope' if the budget gets cut.

Re:Stupid telescope names (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#21627731)

If they made it a Newtonian, would it be the TMNT?

Re:Stupid telescope names (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21625615)

Just look at some of these idiotic names for serious telescopes:

Idiotic? Sure! If by idiotic you mean totally awesome!!

Makes me wanna rename my own 5-inch telescope into Not So Large But Hey Size Doesn't Matter It's How You Use It Telescope.

Re:Stupid telescope names (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21626719)

my own 5-inch telescope
Don't be shy. I find some women like it that wide.

Re:Stupid telescope names (1)

gsn (989808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21625699)

No, No thats not how it works. Their names are irrelevant its the acronyms that matter - its VLT, GMT, ELT and OWL (like the bird). There is also MMT (was multiple mirror - then became Monolithic Mirror) LSST, PS1, LBT, and the TMT - I don't remember when the last time I heard people refer to any of these by their full names (very few exceptions and most of those are like the - like CTIO 4m or just a name like Magellan - which is two telescopes the Clay and Baade - the GMT you complain about is going right next to them) And that is the problem - if you have to end in T and have to have 3-4 letters total that are easy to say then its hard to be creative. Once they come up with a suitable acronym they find words that fit the letters. So GMT works better for us than the 24.5m with a 15 arcmin FOV at Las Campanas.

If this is your business then you know what acronym means what telescope, what its aperture and field of view are and what instruments are available (and these are also very often just acronyms too) blah blah...

Granted this can all be confusing if you aren't in the community and can get more complicated by the fact that if you give us enough money we will happily name the damn thing after your dog if thats what you want. There is for instance a DuPont telescope - this is a perfectly sensible thing to do - these are large expensive projects and often in need of funding and I'd much rather the thing get built than bicker over what its called - the name may not mean very fucking much but the dollars sure do.

Yes, you are quite right (1)

barocco (1168573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21626395)

Yes, you are quite right, except there is already a dog fight between Twenty Metre Telescope and Ten Metre Telescope to register for the acronym TMT, so, glad you quit the the party of idiocy and warm welcome to the party of ambiguity

Re:Stupid telescope names (1)

odyaws (943577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21627145)

It's nice to see a telescope with an OBJECTIVE, QUANTIFIABLE name.
Then I'm guessing you like the current name of this telescope better than the old one: California Extremely Large Telescope [ucolick.org]

I know an engineer working on this project who jokes that "Thirty Meter Telescope" is a good name because if funding is cut they can downscope to the "Twenty Meter Telescope" without having to change any of the "TMT" logos.

Re:Stupid telescope names (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628275)

Square Kilometre Array [wikipedia.org] (SKA) not quantifiable enough for you? Certainly makes a mere 700-odd square metres seem a trifle...but then SKA is a radio telescope.

YES! (1)

log1385 (1199377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624207)

We can spy on Padmé.

30 Metre telescope? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624321)

Pah, if I were building a telescope I would build one that could see at least 300 metres.

buried as lame.

Re:30 Metre telescope? (1)

Quintios (594318) | more than 6 years ago | (#21625907)

You can't BURY topics here. Remember what site you're on? :-P

$200 million? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21624349)

Think of all the schools you could have built instead.

Re:$200 million? (5, Funny)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624637)

Just think how many milliseconds of war you could fight.

Re:$200 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21625897)

You want to build schools when there are people STARVING out there?
You cold-hearted bastard!

Re:$200 million? (1)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628151)

HOW DARE YOU THINK OF FOOD! Think of all the people who don't even have hands to eat with!

Re:$200 million? (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 6 years ago | (#21626111)

Think of all the schools you could have built instead.

With all due respect, this will be the most important school ever built to date when it is up and running, it has many times the potential in terms of a Hubble comparison. I tip my hat to Gordon Moore, and might even have an intel cpu in the next computer I build.

Schools teach a pretty fixed view of things and move forward at agonizingly slow speeds in their curriculum choices. Building more schools is an admirable effort, but this has the potential for rapidly changing what those schools teach forever, something that's pretty badly needed IMNSHO. The knowledge gained from this instrument will, like the Hubble's output before it, trickle down to the neighborhood classrooms, by word of mouth if by no other means, in spite of the foot dragging the ID proponents will exhibit.

My impression of Gordon Moore, the man, was just recalibrated upward quite a ways.

I'm hopeful that the images from first light will be so impressive to Mr. Moore that he will then do like Mr. Keck did on seeing the first light from his first 5 meter on Mona Kea, and he will sit down and write a check for a 2nd one like Mr. Keck did. What a sight it would be, to see the first light of the first stars as they started up, and do it in stereo vision. I hope I live that long because this is gonna take a few years to build.

--
Cheers, Gene
"There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:
  soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order."
-Ed Howdershelt (Author)
A wise man can see more from the bottom of a well than a fool can from a
mountain top.

Some clarification about "adaptive optics" (3, Informative)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624373)

Can someone in the know reconcile this statement:

TMT will be the first ground-based astronomy telescope designed with adaptive optics as an integral system element that will sense atmospheric turbulence in real-time, correct the optical beam of the telescope to remove its effect, and enable true diffraction-limited imaging on the ground.

with the adaptive optics capability of the quite beautiful HET [utexas.edu] at McDonald Observatory? I suppose with any number of very specific qualifiers, one could claim to be "first".

What is the difference between the TMT and the HET with regards to "adaptive optics" and being able to negate the effects of atmospheric turbulence in real time (which the HET can do)?

BTW, if you ever have the chance, the McDonald Observatory in Ft. Davis, TX is well worth the trip!

Re:Some clarification about "adaptive optics" (2, Interesting)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624415)

The McDonald Observatory is in Texas. TFA said "TMT will be the first ground-based astronomy telescope...". Emphasis mine.

Re:Some clarification about "adaptive optics" (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624857)

I assume you're trying to make a joke about Texas but failing miserably.

Re:Some clarification about "adaptive optics" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21625159)

steers and queers

Re:Some clarification about "adaptive optics" (2)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21625807)

I assume you're trying to make a joke about Texas but failing miserably.
Failing, maybe, but not miserably. Not coincidentally, it was in fact a Texan that was known by the phase "miserable failure".

Re:Some clarification about "adaptive optics" (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628525)

/.ers really need to work on their moderation skills. How on earth did my post get modded +2 Interesting?!? It was a stupid joke about Texas, a place I'd never even been to! I'd request that someone give it a -1 Overrated, but we all know what happens to "please mod me down" posts in these parts.

Re:Some clarification about "adaptive optics" (4, Informative)

tomz16 (992375) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624553)

Can someone in the know reconcile this statement:
What is the difference between the TMT and the HET with regards to "adaptive optics" and being able to negate the effects of atmospheric turbulence in real time (which the HET can do)?
It is all a question of scale. Correcting a 30m telescope is harder than correcting for a 9m telescope (larger pupil = more atmospheric aberration over it = higher resolution requirements on your wavefront sensor, and more degrees of freedom on your deformable mirrors). There is also the question of the level of correction. Neither telescope can correct all turbulence from all conjugates and angles perfectly in realtime. The scale of the residual is what ultimately determines the performance of your system. (In fact, there are a few effects dealing with the angular separation of the laser guide star and the edge of your telescope pupil that make correction for larger telescopes intrinsically more challenging). In short, the adaptive optics required to correct a 30meter telescope are quite a bit "harder" than those required for a 10m telescope, and the technologies being developed for the TMT are really pushing the envelope of current AO technology.

Re:Some clarification about "adaptive optics" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21625437)

What is the difference between the TMT and the HET with regards to "adaptive optics" and being able to negate the effects of atmospheric turbulence in real time (which the HET can do)?

Are you sure? I could not find any indication that the HET can negate the effects of atmospheric turbulence in real time at the web site you referenced. In fact http://het.as.utexas.edu/HET/hetweb/Overview/Overview.html [utexas.edu] says:

...the focus only needs to be adjusted once in a trajectory if the temperature and SAMS is stable.

HET doesn't have adaptive optics (4, Informative)

Einer2 (665985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21625891)

It actually doesn't even have an imager, just spectrographs. The term "adaptive optics" refers specifically to systems where a mirror in the light path deforms at very high rates (50-2000 Hz) to correct atmospheric distortions in the wavefront of the incoming light. TMT will have this, as do the VLT, Keck, Gemini, MMT, and Palomar. TMT is just the first that is being designed from the ground up with AO in mind.

Hobby Eberly is basically a very low-budget version of telescopes like Keck. It has the same mirror size (and therefore the same light collecting ability), but they made several design compromises to knock the cost down from $100 million (for Keck) to about $15 million. Most of these compromises reduce the image quality, so they don't even bother trying. They just mounted a bunch of spectrographs since somebody taking a spectrum of a single object usually doesn't care about the nonplanar focal surface and correspondingly tiny effective field of view.

Telescope sees progress? (1)

mh101 (620659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624525)

Wow, most telescopes see stars or other celestial bodies. This one can actually see progress!

Re:Telescope sees progress? (1)

gaderael (1081429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624699)

Now the Republicans have a device to show us all the progress in Iraq and the rest of the world fails to see

you need at least 80 meters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21624563)

to "spot" earth-like planets around other stars.

But it's a start.

Re:you need at least 80 meters (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21624789)

Well, ideally it should be over nine thousand...

optical wavelengths are all that matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21625241)

I hate telescopes that don't do the wavelengths we can actually see. Radio telescope? BORING.

If I can't see it, it doesn't exist. Give me pretty pictures that represent what I would see if I were floating in space around the target body. Everything is just a bullshit waste of money.

Re:optical wavelengths are all that matters (1)

Ig0r (154739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21625407)

If you can't see at interesting wavelengths, maybe you need a better set of eyes.

30+ years (1)

transami (202700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21625381)

Good. Now lets put it on the Moon and get another 10x out her.

Isn't it about time? Or have we become so inept we can't even imagine such things any more?

Next step... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#21625419)

...is to measure the red shift of progress as it slips farther and farther away.

Nice to see them saving money... (1)

srelan (601969) | more than 6 years ago | (#21627385)

by trying things other than ridiculous expensive space experiments. Now I hope they just please recruit some of the scientists away from super-collider projects. So I can sleep at night without dreams of black holes forming up through my garbage disposal.

What if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21627903)

... this could be made for human eyes?

I mean some way to detect if the retina image is correct and if it's not, adjust image transformations dynamically to provide optimal seeing? (though I know such thing already exists in a "static" way...)

It is not surprising... (3, Funny)

Kidbro (80868) | more than 6 years ago | (#21628011)

It is not surprising that it takes a thirty meter telescope to see progress, because there sure ain't any of it nowhere near, is it?

Moore's Law (1)

suitti (447395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21670801)

Since 1610, the largest telescopes have gotten bigger in area by 3.5% every year.
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