Did the TMT Already “Borrow From Military Programs” to Accelerate Research?

I find the following statement on the TMT website very interesting:

Is there any military connection to TMT?

No. The TMT is a purely scientific endeavor, and managed entirely by the university partners.  There is no connection to the military at all.

But then I read this Military & Aerospace Electronics August, 2004 article :

…Engineers must compensate for image distortion caused by atmospheric turbulence, although the technology does not yet exist to do this in such a large telescope, Stepp says.

Engineers have suggested three new types of experimental adaptive optics for the task: multiconjugate, multi-object, and ground-layer. There aren’t any working prototypes of these systems because researchers need improved simulation tools and physical components.

Specifically, researchers need enhanced components such as deformable mirrors, charged-couple-device (CCD) wavefront detectors, high-power lasers, and real-time signal-processing electronics to tilt the mirrors, Stepp says.

One way to accelerate this research is to borrow from military programs

“This technology comes from the whole ‘swords and plowshares’ balance; we would never be able to do this if we hadn’t been terrified of the Russians 20 years ago,” says John C. Mather, senior project scientist at NASA Goddard. “All these detectors were first designed by the military to look at Earth. So we just needed to turn them around and adjust them to look out into space.”

So I guess my basic question is… has the  TMT used the military for research purposes as of yet?

2 Responses

  1. You still didn’t give any good answers.

    Damon – There is no good or bad when sharing opinions. What is right for one person may be completely wrong for another.

    What is wrong with using a technology, orignally invented for the military, for a peaceful use?

    Damon – Now you have me laughing a bit… Military and Peaceful in the same sentence…Good Oxymoron. I didn’t say there was anything wrong with it, however, I don’t trust the people that control our military and most of the motivations behind military spending.

    What would the military use an astronomical telescope for?

    Damon – Don’t these telescopes use infra-red technology with a lot of the research? If so, then to possibly help further develop things like Night Vision Binoculars that are used to search out and kill people in war zones.

    Two questions.

    The big ‘scopes can not be used for anything but looking up. Period. We couldn’t look for a ship at sea if we tried. If we could aim the scope down that low (which we can not, the dome design precludes it) the image would be unusable when looking through that much moving air.

    There simply is no military interest or even any reason for interest in the TMT project. In the inevitable arguments we will watch over the coming year this will probably be said again, and it is simply wrong.

    There will be many arguments against the TMT put forth, the only valid one I have heard to date is the question of native Hawaiian cultural concerns.

    Damon – It’s not what they are looking at necessarily, it’s the research done behind the scene to further progress things in the military.

    The cultural concerns stem from a long standing feelings of Hawaiians being dominated by who… a Military Force… the United States Military! ;) Irony.. I don’t think so.

  2. In your search to connect TMT and the military you need to answer two questions to make any reasonable argument…

    Damon – I thought you said only two? ;)

    What is wrong with using military technologies for other purposes?

    Damon – I’m not a real fan of the military being used for the purposes that they are originally intended, less yet other things.

    This is done all the time. Ask an expectant mother looking at her unborn child in a sonogram if she has any objection to using technology once used to hunt Russian submarines. What is objectionable in utilizing technologies that our tax money has developed for non-military purposes?

    Damon – I would rather see our tax money going to more humanitarian projects that can affect things now. Times are tough now and that money vested in this project I feel might be able to be used in a much better way.

    Why would the military have any interest in the TMT, what could it do for them?

    Damon – Even “Galileo believed the telescope would best serve as an instrument of war”

    Telescopes look at things, there isn’t much in deep space that the military needs to look at. What do they need to see?

    Damon – Remember when I asked you to turn on one of your telescopes to the “Junk” craft to see if you could see it in the middle of the pacific ocean? What could prevent the military from commandeering these during a time of war for some purpose I can’t think of off the top of my head?

    Answer those two questions or give it up.

    Damon – I’m not gonna give up until I get a solid feeling on whether to support this or not. So far, I haven’t been convinced that the TMT will help Hawaii Directly in the future.

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