Saturday, August 29, 2009

China, U.S. May Cooperate On World's Biggest Telescope

Fri Aug 28, 11:59 am ET

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Astronomers from China and the United States may cooperate on building the world's largest telescope aimed at providing deeper insight into the very early stages of the universe, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

The Thirty-Meter-Telescope (TMT), conceived and headed by the University of California and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), is expected to be completed in 2019, the official Chinese news agency said.

"It is a big undertaking and it will define the future of astronomy and astrophysics for about 60 or 70 years, so it will automatically involve a large international community," said Caltech President Jean-Lou Chameau in an interview with Xinhua.

Xinhua said the university and Caltech are talking to Chinese astronomers and scientists about cooperation on funding and technology, although no final decision has been made.

Canada and Japan have signed up to the project, which needs total financing of $1 billion, it said.

The telescope, with a mirror 30 meters in diameter, will have the sharpest view possible of the universe and will pick up images of galaxies and stars forming 13 billion light years away. It will be located on top of Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

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