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Eye in the sky

Hawaii's Board of Land and Natural Resources has approved a plan by California and Canadian universities to build the world's largest optical telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii.

With construction costs expected to surpass $1 billion, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), seen here in this artist's impression, will be able to observe planets outside our solar system.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Courtesy TMT Observatory Corporation
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Big reflector

The TMT will consist of primary, secondary, and tertiary mirrors. This artist's impression shows the relative size of a person, at left.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Courtesy TMT Observatory Corporation
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Primary hexagons

The primary mirror will be nearly 30 meters (98 feet) across, and will consist of 492 hexagonal segments arranged into an f/1 hyperboloidal mirror.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Courtesy TMT Observatory Corporation
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Light collector

The primary mirror is designed to will give it nine times the collecting area of the world's largest optical telescopes, and the images are expected be three times sharper.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Courtesy TMT Observatory Corporation
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Tertiary mirror

This artist's impression shows the tertiary mirror at the center of the TMT's segmented primary mirror.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Courtesy TMT Observatory Corporation
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Schematics

This diagram shows the various tools planned for the TMT. The telescope may be able to view objects some 13 billion light years away.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Courtesy TMT Observatory Corporation
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Sunset at the top

An illustration of the TMT at sunset. Already home to about a dozen telescopes, Mauna Kea's summit at 13,796 feet is popular with astronomers because it is above the clouds.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Courtesy TMT Observatory Corporation
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