Thirty Meter Telescope

Astronomy's next generation observatory.


Site Information: Facts & Rumors

Fast Facts

  • Dome diameter: 66 meters (217 feet)
  • Dome height: 56 meters (180 feet)
  • Area of buildings: 1.44 acres
  • Total area (roads, parking, etc): 5 acres

Why the Thirty Meter Telescope?

This telescope would take advantage of technological advances made since the construction of the current generation of eight and ten meter telescopes. The size of the primary mirror and other technological advances would allow the TMT to make observations of fainter objects and with resolution many times greater than that of the Hubble Space Telescope. The TMT would be capable of investigating a broad range of questions, including the search for life on planets outside our solar system, the physics of planet and star formation, and how the very first galaxies formed and evolved.

Is there any military connection to TMT?

No. The TMT is a purely scientific endeavor, and managed entirely by the university partners. There is no connection at all to the military.

How large will the dome of TMT be?

TMT will utilize the latest engineering techniques to reduce the dome size. Although the TMT’s primary mirror diameter is three times the diameter of the Keck primary mirror, the TMT dome would not be three times the size of the Keck dome. Considerations of ways to lessen the visual impact of the observatory have been and will continue to be part of the final design. The TMT’s location on the northern plateau would also shield it from view from much of the island.

How large will the entire TMT Observatory be?

The TMT Draft Environmental Impact Statement states that the "area of disturbance" for TMT will be approximately 5 acres, approximately the same area as the Keck Observatory. The footprint of the TMT observatory and support building on Mauna Kea, however, will be only 1.44 acres. The remaining area will be occupied by parking, roads, access, and slopes required to prevent erosion.