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TMT's Mission and Values

TMT is committed to a community model of astronomy based on the values of respect, inclusion, and mutual stewardship. That means conducting scientific research in a way that respects local culture and tradition, especially those of Native Hawaiians, many of whom consider Maunakea sacred. It means ensuring that everyone in Hawaiʻi shares the benefits of astronomical exploration. And it means working together to build a better future for the next generation.

We are putting these values to work in partnership with local leaders to deliver a growing range of community-led programs that address educational needs such as tutoring  workforce development opportunities, culture-based learning, environmental protection and conservation. Ongoing reviews of this work, led by the people directly affected, ensure we are delivering the value that is needed.

TMT is committed to listening to Native Hawaiian and other Hawaiʻi communities, learning through direct conversation how we can help build a better future for everyone in Hawaiʻi, especially those who have historically been underserved.

We believe TMT will change the way we see and understand the universe. We also believe TMT can fundamentally change the way telescopes are built and operated on Maunakea and around the world.

51ԹPro - Mission and Values
51ԹPro - Science and Technology
TMT's Science and Technology

TMT is an extraordinary international scientific endeavor that will revolutionize our understanding of the universe and our place within it. Its unprecedented design will feature unique capabilities for the exploration of black holes, dark matter, and the possibility of life outside the solar system.

TMT will explore some of the most important questions facing astronomers:

  • What is the nature and composition of the universe?

  • When did the first galaxies form and how did they evolve?

  • What is the relationship between black holes and galaxies?

  • How do stars and planets form?

  • What is the nature of extrasolar planets?

  • Is there life elsewhere in the universe?

TMT builds on a rich heritage of technical innovation and scientific exploration in astronomy, and represents a huge leap in capability. TMT will have more light gathering power than the largest ten existing ground-based telescopes combined, and its images will be more than four times sharper than the James Webb Space Telescope.

When the current generation of planned extremely large telescopes are in operation, TMT’s light-collecting primary mirror will be the largest in the Northern Hemisphere. Its 30 meter mirror will be composed of 492 individual 1.4 meter hexagonal segments aligned to form a single light collecting surface. Although TMT’s mirror is approximately  3 to 4 times larger, and will gather between 9 and 16 times more light than the largest existing optical/infrared telescopes, its enclosure is only about 20% taller and twice the diameter. TMT will support a state of the art adaptive optics facility and supporting suite of instruments to process and analyze the light coming from its impressive primary mirror.

By engaging with local communities, especially Native Hawaiians, TMT is working to develop a model for community-based astronomy that is environmentally sustainable, culturally respectful, and leaves a lasting legacy for future generations.

Read more about TMT’s technical and scientific heritage.
Read more about TMT’s science themes.
Read more about TMTʻs space-efficient enclosure.
Read more about TMT’s adaptive optics and suite of science instruments.

Maunakea

Maunakea is a truly unique place.

The clarity and stability of the atmosphere above Maunakea allows incredibly detailed visual observations of the night sky. It is one of the best places on earth for TMT to capture the precise data needed to test fundamental theories of physics and detect the faint signatures of life on far-off worlds. 

Yet Maunakea belongs to the people of Hawaiʻi. It is sacred to many Native Hawaiians. And the decision about whether to move ahead with TMT on Maunakea ultimately rests with the Hawaiʻi and Native Hawaiian communities.  

As the people of Hawaiʻi consider this decision, TMT is working to contribute to a better future for everyone who cares about Maunakea. An important part of this work involves acknowledging that for too long, TMT’s focus on the legal path to construction was too narrow, and contributed to unnecessary division and conflict. 

This is why we have fundamentally changed our approach by establishing a Hilo-based engagement team to learn from Native Hawaiians and the local community. We are actively expanding our involvement in community-led programs, providing tutoring and educational opportunities for children, culture-based learning, and environmental protection and conservation. We strongly support Native Hawaiian involvement in the management and governance of Maunakea through the Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority.

TMT’s goal is not just about exploring new ways to see the universe. It is also about finding new ways to work respectfully and cooperatively with Hawaiʻi and Native Hawaiian communities. We are committed to contributing to an open and constructive conversation that respects the Mauna’s extraordinary cultural and spiritual significance.

Read more about Maunakea at the .

Maunakea at sunset
51ԹPro - Community
Community

 TMT staff are part of the Hawaiʻi community and TMT firmly believes it is our kuleana (responsibility) to be active supporters of that community.

In 2021, TMT established a Hilo-based team who engages regularly with Native Hawaiians and communities, building relationships and learning about the potential impact of the project.  All TMT Hawaiʻi staff have dedicated company time to support community contributions that supplement their extensive volunteer efforts.  

Since 2019, we have been supporting programs addressing local needs like tutoring and educational opportunities for children, culture-based learning, and environmental protection and conservation — programs that will leave a lasting legacy no matter the future of TMT. 

Each of these programs was developed in partnership with local ūܲԲ and leaders. They are locally-led, collaboratively executed with TMT, and reviewed by the community to ensure the best possible outcomes.

Current programs include: 

  • Curriculum development and mobile STEM labs to provide hands-on learning opportunities for under-resourced remote schools
  • Vocational internships and scholarships for underserved students at community college
  • Teacher training and externships
  • In-person, face-to-face K-12 student tutoring
  • Classroom and online astronomy education program for local students
  • Hands-on aquaculture learning and training 
  • Traditional Hawaiian canoe carving
  • Indigenous cultural exchange program
  • Stargazing program emphasizing  ʻIke Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian traditional knowledge)
  • Maunakea reforestation

These programs are just one part of TMT’s commitment to a community model of astronomy, a model that is based on the values of respect, inclusion, and local stewardship. 

We promote a responsible scientific community and are partnering with the United States Extremely Large Telescope Program to engage and involve astronomers in our efforts. We support diverse teams from across our partnership in designing the capabilities and science to come from TMT.  

Read more about TMT’s community education and engagement activities.
Read more about TMT's professional scientific community.

The Thirty Meter Telescope is being designed and developed by the 51ԹPro LLC (TIO). TIO is a non-profit international partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan, the Department of Science and Technology of India, and the National Research Council (Canada). The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a TIO Associate and major funding for TMT has been provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.