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Canada's economic issues might affect Thirty Meter Telescope's future

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The Thirty Meter Telescope's (TMT) construction finally began in 2014 after a decade of delays, but its struggles aren't over yet. Its developers might find themselves $235 million short, since the Canadian government still hasn't released its part of the budget that the other major players have been expecting since last year. While the telescope's parts are already being built, the team needs Canada's money to proceed with the building's construction, as half of $235 million will be used for the telescope's gigantic steel enclosure. The Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy played a key role in getting the project off the ground -- and its government already spent $27 million on engineering plans -- so its members aren't giving up that easily.

The organization's chairman, Donald Brooks, said pulling out at this point "would be a shattering loss of obligation on [their] part." He and his colleagues have been in talks with the government in Ottawa, trying to make officials understand how important the project is, especially since astronomy is apparently one of Canada's highest-rated research fields. Their country's economy has been suffering recently, but they're still hoping that the government decides to stay true to its word and hand over $235 million early next month. If that doesn't happen, the telescope's board will hold a meeting on April 29th in an effort to convince Canada and ensure TMT's future.

The Thirty Meter Telescope is one of the three gigantic observatories currently under construction, with the other two being the European Extremely Large Telescope and the Giant Magellan Telescope. Those two are being built in Chile, while TMT will be located near the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano. Once finished, the telescope itself will measure 100 feet across, boasting 10 times the resolution of NASA's Hubble.

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