MAUNA KEA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Canada is the latest country to become a full member of the Thirty Meter Telescope project, officials announced Tuesday.
The TMT International Observatory board of directors voted Canada in as a full member at a recent board meeting. It joins the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the science institutions of China, India and Japan as partners in the TMT project.
Last month, Canadian Primer Minister Stephen Harper announced that the country would provide CA$243.5 million toward the project over the next decade. Canada would help build the telescope's enclosure and cutting-edge adaptive optics system.
"Canada is proud to be an official partner in this revolutionary facility that has the potential to transform our understanding of the universe," Moore said in a statement. "We look forward to working with our international partners in conducting ground-breaking space research."
TIO, a nonprofit company founded in May 2014, is responsible for carrying out the construction and operation phases of the TMT project planned to be built on Mauna Kea. Currently, major funding is being provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. Other parts of the world – including India, China, Japan and California -- are designing and building separate parts of the telescope.
When the Thirty Meter Telescope is completed, its large aperture will collect more light, allowing international astronomers to observe fainter objects – including planets that orbit stars outside our own solar system and distant stars that formed some 13 billion light years away.
Construction, however, has been postponed until further notice. Thousands of activists have been protesting the building of the TMT on Mauna Kea's summit, which is considered sacred land.