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TMT Breaks Ground

Today at 3 p.m. PDT, a groundbreaking and blessing ceremony approximately 14,000 feet above sea level, near the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea, will officially kick off construction for the next-generation Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

The ceremony, preceded by pre-recorded science segments, can be viewed live beginning at 2:15 p.m. PDT. Log on to to watch the groundbreaking ceremonies. Viewers worldwide are welcome to send greetings to TMT (@TMTHawaii) via the hashtag #buildingTMT.

Henry Yang, chair of the TMT International Observatory (TIO) board and chancellor of the University of California, Santa Barbara, will deliver the groundbreaking program's opening remarks, followed by Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor William Kenoi. The program will conclude with a traditional Hawaiian ceremony that will include Caltech President Thomas F. Rosenbaum. Also in attendance will be Provost Edward Stolper; Board of Trustees Chair David Lee (PhD, '74); Senior Trustee Walter L. Weisman and Life Trustee Gordon Moore (PhD, '54); Tom Soifer (BS, '68), Kent and Joyce Kresa Leadership Chair of the Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy; Ed Stone, the David Morrisroe Professor of Physics and TIO executive director; and other members of the Caltech administration and faculty.

When completed, TMT will be the world's most advanced optical/near-infrared observatory, offering the highest-definition views ever achieved of planets orbiting nearby stars and the first stars and galaxies in the distant universe, and enabling researchers to tackle some of humanity's most fundamental and elusive questions.

Caltech, in collaboration with the University of California and scientists from Japan, China, India, and Canada, and with generous financial support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, spearheaded the design and construction of the $1.4 billion project, which was first conceived more than a decade ago.

Written by Kathy Svitil