India’s space programme would receive a shot in the arm if the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), a planned astronomical observatory, is built here.
Hanle in Ladakh has been shortlisted along with another location in Chile for the proposed construction of the $1.47 billion observatory.
An artist’s impression of the TMT observatory. TMT
TMT was to be built in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, but it ran into ‘religious’ problems. The proposed site is sacred to the natives of the US island state.
In December 2015, the Hawaii Supreme Court cancelled the permit for construction of the TMT forcing the board to look for other places. And thus came up the name of Hanle.
Hanle is a quaint village in south of Ladakh, very close to the Indo-China border.
The Indian Astronomical Observatory is located in Hanle, and the Major Atmospheric Cerenkov Experiment Telescope is set to start operations from here.
The Indian Astronomical Observatory in Hanle. Wikimedia Commons
Hanle is the perfect location for astronomical telescopes because of its altitude, which is approximately 4,500 meters above sea level.
TOI reports that India is already building paraphernalia for the TMT such as edge sensors, actuators and system support and software. If Hanle gets the green signal, India will invest $212 million in the project. For the last three years, India has been involved in the project through its own departments, and Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) and the IUCAA.