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
Todd Boroson Las Cumbres Observatory
Ian Dell'Antonio Brown University
Mark Dickinson (chair) NOAO
Anthony Gonzalez University of Florida
Stephen Kane San Francisco State University
Jennifer Lotz STScI
Lucas Macri Texas A&M University
Paul Martini Ohio State University
Susan Neff GSFC
Deborah Padgett GSFC
Lisa Storrie-Lombardi IPAC
Charles Telesco University of Florida

Community Opportunities

TMT Science Forum:  17-19 July 2014, Tucson AZ

The TMT Science Forum is an annual gathering of astronomers, educators, and TMT observatory staff for the purpose of exploring TMT science, instrumentation, observatory operations, archiving and data processing, and education and outreach issues.  It is the largest and best opportunity for astronomers throughout the international TMT partnership to meet and exchange ideas, and it is also one of the main opportunities for members of the US-at-large astronomical community to engage with TMT.  The 2013 TMT Science Forum was held on 22-23 July 2013 in Waikoloa, Hawaii.  The presentations are available on the conference web site.   

The next TMT Science Forum will be held on 17-19 July 2014 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Arizona.  One important theme for the Forum will be the synergy between TMT and other facilities in the post-2020 astronomical landscape.  There will be plenary sessions, an instrumentation workshop, and breakout sessions of the TMT International Science Development Teams:

  • 17-18 July:    Forum plenary meeting and ISDT sessions
  • 19 July:  TMT Instrumentation Workshop

The NSF-TMT cooperative agreement can support members of the US community who would like to attend the Forum.  Please write to for more information if you are interested in attending the Forum. The conference web site will soon be updated with information about the meeting program, registration, and hotel reservations.

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 March 3, 2014.