April 2013  •  Issue 26



In this Issue…

Opportunity (Your Involvement in TMT Invited): As part of the recent cooperative agreement between NSF and the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Observatory, NOAO is organizing a 5-year community planning effort to solicit and report on US perspectives regarding TMT science, education and public outreach, instrumentation, and facility operations. The US community is invited to attend the first TMT Science Forum 22-23 July 2013 to engage in the start of the planning process. As described in this article, limited funding for travel support is available and can be requested by writing to before 6 May 2013.

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Your Involvement in TMT Invited

As described in a recent press release, NSF has awarded a cooperative agreement to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Observatory to explore a partnership between the two organizations. One of the aims of the agreement is increased US community engagement with TMT, a goal that is funded at the level of $250,000 per year for five years. NOAO will assist TMT in achieving this goal through a sub-award from TMT under the cooperative agreement.

NOAO will facilitate US community engagement in TMT through a community planning effort led by Todd Boroson (NOAO). This community planning program will deliver a report that addresses TMT science, education and public outreach, instrumentation, and facility operations priorities from the perspective of the US astronomical community. The report will be developed in a series of meetings that brings together US and international stakeholders.

US Community Members invited to first TMT Science Forum

TMT Science Forum Poster

The first meeting in this series, the TMT Science Forum, will be held 22-23 July 2013 at the Waikoloa Marriott on the island of Hawaii. There is no registration fee and everyone is welcome to attend. Limited travel funding is available, through the cooperative agreement, for US community members who are not affiliated with TMT institutions. To request consideration for travel funding, please write to before 6 May 2013 with your name, institutional affiliation, and areas of interest relevant to TMT.

The program will consist of talks and workshop discussions exploring science, first-light instruments, observatory operations, archiving and data products, key projects and cross-partnership collaborations, astronomy education and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities. This is an opportunity to learn more about TMT capabilities and instruments and explore how these would benefit your scientific research. The Forum will also include the initial meetings of TMT science collaboration groups. These groups, modeled after the LSST Science Collaborations, will bring together scientists from throughout the TMT partnership (including the entire US community), both to develop ideas for key observations and studies that TMT will enable and to participate in these studies from beginning to end. Further details and the Forum program can be found at

The US TMT Liaison Effort

The TMT Science forum is just one element in the US community planning program. Community participation in TMT is enabled and encouraged in the following ways:

  • Community gatherings (such as the annual TMT Science Forum and annual TMT workshops associated with January AAS meetings) provide opportunities for information exchange and community discussion. NOAO can also provide informational material and/or give presentations on this topic (and receive your input) at your institution or at regional meetings.

  • NOAO is convening a US TMT Science Working Group (SWG) that will be charged with developing community perspectives on TMT science issues. The broad US community is invited to share their science perspectives by attending the science forums and other community activities, writing to Todd Boroson (, and contacting the SWG. These perspectives will inform US community participation on the TMT Science Advisory Committee (SAC). Ultimately, community perspectives will be documented in a set of deliverable reports to guide future NSF and TMT interactions.

  • US community representatives will participate as equal partners on TMT committees such as the TMT Collaborative Board and the TMT SAC. The Collaborative Board is responsible for guiding the formation and launching of the partnership that will build and operate the TMT Observatory. The TMT SAC advises the Board and the project on all matters related to the science case and science-based requirements and develops awareness among the broad TMT partnership of TMT’s capabilities.

A web page describes the overall liaison activity and includes links to additional information and opportunities. The current Board, SAC, and SWG members representing the NSF and the US community can be found at this web site.

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Contact Us

Your input is welcome on any of these issues. Please send your thoughts to

In this Issue

Currents is a sparkplug for communication between NOAO and our community. It provides updates—and solicits community input—on NOAO observing opportunities and NOAO programs and policies on a more rapid timescale than is possible with the NOAO Newsletter.

NOAO is the national center for ground-based nighttime astronomy in the United States and is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

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