Bengaluru: Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday unveiled the mirror polishing facility for the 30-metre telescope project at the Centre for Research and Education in Science and Technology (Crest) of the state-run Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) on this tech city’s outskirts.
India is part of the five-member international consortium of research organisations and science institutions that will build the 30-metre diameter mirror telescope on the top of Mauna Kea at Hawaii island in the US during this decade.
With 10 per cent investment, India is a partner in the $3-billion largest ground-based astronomy project in the northern hemisphere.
Besides India, Canada, China, Japan and the US are four members of the consortium.
The large optics fabrication facility of Crest will grind and polish 80 segments of the 30-metre telescope.
The complex project involves making 492 segments to act as a single mirror of 30-metre diameter to scan the sky with precision.
“India’s contribution to the project relates to the software, electronics and hardware to control the 492 segments’ behaviour as a single mirror within a few nanometres,” said IIA in a statement.
As making a single 30-metre glass blank for astronomy is not feasible, the main or primary mirror will have 492 segments of 1.45-metre each.
“Participation in mega scientific projects will provide a level-playing field to Indian scientists and help the industries to build capacity in high technology fields,” said Naidu on the occasion.
Located 35km east of this tech hub, the state-run Crest also houses the control room of the two-metre Himalayan Chandra telescope of IIA at Hanle in the Union Territory of Ladakh in the country’s northern region.
Naidu also unveiled an environmental test facility to integrate and calibrate small space instruments (payloads) in the M.G.K. Menon Laboratory for Space Sciences in the sprawling campus at Hoskote in Bengaluru Rural district.
The laboratory is equipped to test and qualify space of components.
Naidu witnessed integration of space payload and remote operation of the Chandra telescope in Ladakh.
Addressing students and faculty of Crest, Naidu said India’s participation in the telescope project was part of the country’s age-old cultural ethos of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbam’ (world as one family).
“It is a matter of pride to be part of a scientific endeavour for humanity’s common good to understand our origin and evolution in the universe,” said Naidu.
Noting India’s tradition of astronomy was well known the world over, the Vice-President said the country made several contributions to astronomy since ancient times.
“Science is the foundation for the progress of any society, as it deals with truths of verifiable facts through repeated experiments,” said Naidu.
Asserting that India’s foray into global scientific ventures was natural, given its intellectual reserves and stature as an emerging economic and political power, Naidu said the country was moving up on the science and technology front rapidly.
“As the ultimate aim of science is to make people’s lives comfortable and happier, institutions should provide a platform for innovations,” Naidu said.
Stressing the need to inculcate scientific temper in the people, especially in the younger generation, the Vice-President called for providing equal opportunities and encouragement to women scientists.
Karnataka’s Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and IIA Director Annapurni Subramaniam and other dignitaries were present at the event.
Naidu, who is on a 3-day visit to Karnataka, is staying at Raj Bhavan in the city centre and will leave for Chennai on December 31.
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