I've mentioned the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) in an earlier post. Canada is a 25% partner in the TMT project, which is currently in the Design and Development Phase. The latest TMT Newscast's focus is on site-testing. Deciding where to put your telescope is extremely critical - you only get one chance to pick the right spot. Besides lots of clear skies, a good telescope site will be one with minimal atmospheric turbulence, which will allow the telescope to produce excellent images. Other factors that are important include: wind speed, height of the mountain, accessibility, available infrastructure, and impact on operating costs.
The newsletter also talks about cosmic reionization. We see the Universe as it is today because it is transparent to ultraviolet photons. Thirteen billion years ago the neutral hydrogen gas was ionized making it tranparent to these photons. How and when it happened exactly is something that we don't understand. When did this remarkable event happen? What role did the first star-forming galaxies play and how did those early systems develop to become the galaxies we see at later times? These are some of the questions researchers using the TMT and other facilities are hoping to answer.