The University of California and the California Institute of Technology have received $17.5 million each from the San Francisco-based Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to design the world's most powerful telescope on land or in orbit, the Associated Press reports.
The two institutions have already begun researching the optical and infrared telescope, which would have nine times the light-gathering ability of the largest telescopes currently in operation. It would produce images twelve times sharper than the telescopes aboard the Hubble Space Telescope and allow astrophysicists to study early galaxies and pinpoint the processes that lead to young planetary systems. Known as the Thirty Meter Telescope because it is expected to be thirty meters in diameter, the device could be completed in as little as ten years and located far from urban lights, possibly on a desolate mountain in Mexico or South America.
Researchers from both California institutions will work closely on the project, with assistance from academics from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy. The Moore Foundation, which was established in 2000 by the co-founder of Intel and his wife, did not commit to the final construction phase of the project.