US TMT Liaison

TMT Background Information & FAQ

Latest News:

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. AURA is an associate member of the TMT International Observatory (TIO), and NOAO is executing AURA's responsibilities and TMT particiation activities, representing the US astronomical community.

NOAO established a US TMT Liaison office ( to help coordinate and organize these activities, and a US TMT Science Working Group (SWG). This effort will lead to a set of reports, based on input solicited from the scientific community, that will constitute a plan for US participation in TMT. 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.

AURA has voting representation on the TMT International Observatory Board of Governors, as well as on the TMT Science Advisory Committee (SAC).

TMT Collaboration Board of Directors
US Community members


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


Mark Dickinson (SAC 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 US Community Survey (Please respond by 6 October 2014)

The US TMT Science Working Group would like your input on how you would use TMT for your scientific research, and on the instrumentation, operations, time allocation, and data management issues you view as most important to maximize the scientific return of TMT for the US astronomical community.

As part of this process, the SWG would like you to fill out a short TMT US community survey. Most of the survey consists of multiple choice questions, which should only take 10 to 15 minutes to answer. There are also some optional "essay questions" where you can provide additional information or opinions about various issues.  Filling out this survey will help inform the SWG's discussions and subsequent report to the NSF.

TMT Science Forum

Web site:

Meeting program and presentations

The Thirty Meter Telescope Observatory and NOAO hosted the second TMT Science Forum on 17 to 19 July 2014 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort 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 was “TMT in the Astronomical Landscape of the 2020s”. The meeting explored the synergy between TMT and other facilities in the post-2020 astronomical landscape, including space- and ground-based observatories operating at all wavelengths. There were plenary sessions with invited speakers and panel discussions, a TMT Instrumentation Workshop, and as well as parallel topical science sessions organized by the TMT International Science Development Teams (ISDTs), and a poster session.  There was also an all-day TMT Instrumentation Workshop,

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.  

The annual call for ISDT membership is now open, with applications due on 16 January 2015.  For more information, see:

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 January 16, 2015.