US TMT Liaison

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In March 2013, the NSF/AST and the Thirty Meter Telescope Observatory Corporation signed a cooperative agreement initiating a five-year program aimed at engaging the US astronomical community in the TMT Observatory project. NOAO has established a US TMT Liaison office ( to help coordinate and organize these activities.  This effort will lead to a set of reports, written by the US TMT Science Working Group and Collaboration Board members (see below), and based on input solicited from the scientific community, that will constitute a plan for US participation in TMT.   The contents of these reports will include:

  • US TMT Science Plan - the scientific justification for the TMT from the US community perspective;
  • Flowdown to Capabilities - the telescope, instrumentation, and AO capabilities needed to address the US community's aspirations;
  • Flowdown to Operations - how TMT would be best used to maximilly benefit the US community, including discussions of observing modes, time allocation, and data management;
  • Integrated Science and Education Plan - addressing broader impacts of workforce development, education, and public outreach.

The US-at-large community has representation on the TMT Board of Directors, as well as on the TMT Science Advisory Committee (SAC).

TMT Collaboration Board of Directors
US Community members


Vern Pankonin NSF/AST
Caty Pilachowski Indiana University
David Silva NOAO
TMT Science Advisory Committee - US Community Members (drawn from US TMT SWG)


Mark Dickinson (SAC co-chair) NOAO
Ian Dell'Antonio Brown University
Jennifer Lotz STScI







The US TMT Science Working Group

The US TMT Science Working Group (SWG) was established following the cooperative agreement between the NSF and TMT.  The US TMT SWG meets quarterly to develop US community consensus perspectives for input to the TMT Science Advisory Committee.  Over the five-year period of the NSF-TMT cooperative agreement, the US TMT SWG will produce reports on US community views to guide future NSF-TMT interactions.

Name Institution
US TMT Science Working Group Members
Ian Dell'Antonio Brown University
Mark Dickinson (chair) NOAO
Anthony Gonzalez University of Florida
Stephen Kane San Francisco State University
James Lloyd Cornell University
Jennifer Lotz STScI
Lucas Macri Texas A&M University
Karen Meech University of Hawaii / IfA
Susan Neff Goddard Space Flight Center
Deborah Padgett Goddard Space Flight Center
Caty Pilachowski Indiana University
Kartik Sheth NRAO
Lisa Storrie-Lombardi Infrared Processing and Analysis Center

Community Opportunities

TMT Science Forum:  17-19 July 2014

Venue:  Lowes Ventana Canyon Resort, Tucson AZ

Registration deadline:  10 June 2014

Web site:

The Thirty Meter Telescope Observatory and NOAO will host the second TMT Science Forum on 17 to 19 July 2014 in Tucson, Arizona, USA. The Forum is an annual gathering of astronomers, educators, and observatory staff, who meet to explore TMT science, instrumentation, observatory operations, archiving and data processing, and education, outreach and workforce development issues. It is an opportunity to learn about the observatory status, to discuss and plan cutting-edge science, to establish collaborations, and to help shape the future of TMT.

The theme of this year’s Forum is “TMT in the Astronomical Landscape of the 2020s”. The meeting will explore the synergy between TMT and other facilities in the post-2020 astronomical landscape, including space- and ground-based observatories operating at all wavelengths. There will be plenary sessions with invited speakers and panel discussions, as well as topical science sessions with opportunities for contributed talks, and a poster session.

In parallel with the topical sessions, there will be an all-day TMT Instrumentation Workshop, which will present information on all aspects of the TMT instrumentation program to interested scientists and instrument builders, to facilitate planning of specific contributions to the design, development, fabrication, assembly, integration, and testing of first- and second-generation TMT instruments. The Forum will also be an opportunity for members of the TMT International Science Development Teams (ISDTs) to meet in working breakout sessions.

The TMT Science Forum will be held at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, a breathtaking desert sanctuary located in a lush, 100-acre desert garden at the foothills of the magnificent Santa Catalina Mountains. The deadline for registration and hotel reservations is 10 June 2014.

The 2013 TMT Science Forum was held on 22-23 July 2013 in Waikoloa, Hawaii. The presentations are available on the conference web site.   

TMT International Science Development Teams

The TMT Observatory has established partnership-wide International Science Development Teams (ISDTs) to provide scientific input and feedback to the TMT project.  ISDT membership is open to all Ph.D. scientists anywhere, both from the current TMT partners and from the astronomical community at large.   TMT will have an annual call for membership in the ISDTs.

The goals and tasks of the ISDTs include:

  • Building connections between scientists within and beyond the international TMT partnership
  • Broadening the base of scientists actively engaged in TMT, including, e.g., observers, theorists, high-energy physicists
  • Demonstrating the full potential of TMT in key science areas cutting across instrumentation boundaries
  • Maintaining the TMT Detailed Science Case, a foundation document that serves as the scientific guideline for all aspects of TMT development
  • Increasing visibility of TMT science by producing white papers and organizing workshops

The initial set of ISDTs are organized around eight topics:

  • Fundamental physics and cosmology
  • Early universe, galaxy formation and the intergalactic medium
  • Supermassive black holes and active galactic nuclei
  • The Milky Way and nearby galaxies
  • Formation of stars and planets
  • Exoplanets
  • Our solar system
  • Time domain astronomy


Last updated or reviewed June 30, 2014.