India’s Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project has achieved another significant milestone in producing segmented mirror components called Segment Support Assemblies (SSAs).
The TMT is an enormous ground-based telescope built in partnership between astronomy institutions in the United States, India, China, Japan, and Canada. The TMT is expected to enable scientists to study the universe in unprecedented detail when it becomes operational in the mid-2020s from its location on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
The SSA is an essential component of the primary mirror of the TMT, which consists of 492 hexagonal mirror segments and holds the mirror segments in place and adjusts their positions to achieve the required optical performance. The TMT’s primary mirror has a diameter of 30 metres and consists of 798 individual SSAs. The SSA’s production is a complex and challenging process that requires high-precision engineering and manufacturing capabilities. While India’s Larsen & Toubro manufactured the SSA, it collaborated with the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), and the TMT Observatory Corporation (TOC).
The TMT India consortium has established several facilities across the country, including the India TMT Optics Fabrication Facility (ITOFF) in Bengaluru, the India TMT Mirror Fabrication Facility (ITMFF) in Coimbatore, and the India TMT Science Coordination Center (ITSCC) in Pune. The TMT is a crucial project for India’s R&D institutions and industry regarding capacity-building. The delivery of SSAs reaffirms India’s commitment to Make in India, Make for World.