The two Asian giants China and India might be rivals due to their border disputes and the said, unsaid willingness to beat each other. But in a major first both emerging economies are going to cooperate in astronomy research as partners in a Hawaii telescope, the world’s largest telescope when it’s built around 2018. .
AP reported that China and India will pay a share of the construction cost – expected to top $1 billion – for the Thirty Meter Telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea volcano. They will also have a share of the observation time.
The cooperation comes in the backdrop of bickering between the two major power due to a host of issues including visa denial to a top Indian officer from Arunachal recently. Last month China called off the the November 2011 border talks to protest the Buddhist conference in India with the Dalai Lama as the keynote speaker. Considering the sensitivity of the territorial differences, the parties have now decided to resume top-level exchange. India and China will hold the 15th bilateral round of talks in this capital with an agenda to address border claims, visas, cooperation and improve current bilateral trade from 60 billion to 100 billion dollars by 2015.
The coming together of the two countries which contribute nearly half of global growth is a welcome step for global scientific community. BlackRock Investment Institute’s (BII) report, ‘The Year of Living Divergently’, said this week that in the year 2012 despite slowing down, China and India continue to contribute more than half of the world’s economic growth. This comes even as the United States and Europe have been witnessing continuously slow growth. Critical as is the role of both the emerging market in fueling global economic growth, their cooperation would be vital for the cause of science.
The telescope, knows as TMT, was founded by the University of California system, the California Institute of Technology and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy. China joined as an observer in 2009, followed by India the next year. Both are now partners, with representatives on the TMT board. Japan, which has its own large telescope at Mauna Kea, the 8.3-meter Subaru, is also a partner.
TMT will be a 30 meter long and with a segmented primary mirror of nearly 100 feet which will give it nine times the light-collecting area of the largest optical telescopes in use today. Its images will also be three times sharper. It will be able to observe planets that orbit stars other than the sun and enable astronomers to watch new planets and stars being formed. It should also help scientists see some 13 billion light years away for a glimpse into the early years of the universe.
India and China are both expected to contribute 10 percent of the telescope’s construction cost. Seventy percent of this will be in kind, in the form of equipment and parts.