NOT TO BE SHY OF THE INFINITE ANYMORE!
Post By Himanshi Gupta on 28-June-2015
Henri Poincare beautifully expressed, “Astronomy is useful because it raises us above ourselves. It is useful because it is GRAND. It shows us how small is man’s body, how great is his mind, since his intelligence can embrace the whole dazzling immensity, where his body is only an obscure point, & enjoy its silent harmony.”
Indian astronomy has played an intrinsic role right from pre-historic times to modern times, flourished in 5-6th century, with Aryabhata, whose Aryabhatiya represented the pinnacle of astronomical knowledge at the time. This time India has joined a five-nation project, involving US, Japan, China & Canada, with the aim of building a TMT, better known as the Thirty Metre Telescope. This telescope would be the second largest after the existing ELT or Extremely Large Telescopes, is a $1.4 billion project!
It would be built in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, & would reach its completion around the year, 2023. The basic aim of this project is to enable the scientists to see fainter objects, explore life beyond our solar system. Basically India would be making the sensors & actuators that would keep the mirror of the telescope in place. According to Yashwant Gupta, Dean of the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, India is leading the package involving telescope’s manager, which will act as the brain for the telescope.
Now, Iris is a first generation near-infrared instrument being designed to sample the diffraction limit of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). It is a multi-institutional collaboration from USA, Canada, and Japan. It comprises of an Integral Field Spectrograph & an Imager. It will further help in achieving an angular resolution ten times better than images from the Hubble Space Telescope, and will be the highest angular resolution near-infrared instrument in the world.
According to officials involved in the development of Iris, its science involves the combination of a large collecting area and unprecedented angular resolution that will have a direct impact on a broad range of science programs that span topics as diverse as the search for extrasolar planets to studies of the first stars to illuminate the Universe. The science team has generated a plethora of astronomical topics that IRIS will be capable of exploring.
Being a founding member in the project, India would be a 10 percent partner, & 70 percent of its contributions would be “in kind”.