November 02, 2005 09:59 ET

Billion dollar telescope, led by Canada, will be world largest

AMEC's Thirty-Metre Telescope to study the universe's curiousities Attention: Business/Financial Editor, News Editor, Science Editor, Tech/Telecomm Editor OAKVILLE, ON--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 2, 2005) - AMEC, the international project management and engineering services company, unveiled plans for a telescope the size of a football field to be built over the next 10 years.

The Thirty-Metre Telescope, called TMT, will dwarf existing telescopes and will be housed in an observatory the size of a large stadium. Unlike current telescopes, which have one mirror, this will have 780 mirrors side-by-side acting as one big mirror.

"The TMT will be a quantum leap ahead of today's most sophisticated telescopes," states AMEC's David Halliday, Vice President and Director, Special Projects. "At three times the size of than any existing ground-based optical telescope, scientists will be able to study the heavens with far greater clarity."

AMEC and fifteen Canadian universities belonging to the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA) have been actively working on the initial planning stages. Their efforts are being combined with those of the National Research Council, the US-based Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of California.

"The TMT is one of the most exciting international science projects and universities are pleased to collaborate with AMEC," states Pekka Sinervo, Chair, Institutional Council of ACURA. "This will be the research instrument for the next generation of astronomers."

Although a site for the telescope has not been selected, it is hoped that preconstruction would likely begin in 2008 so that it would become operational by 2015. The plans were unveiled in Vancouver, Canada, where AMEC engineers have been working on the project.

TMT will shed light on many cosmic mysteries, including dark matter and dark energy which comprise 95% of the universe. This mammoth telescope will study black holes and how they affect galaxies, including the one in the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Furthermore, it will have sufficient angular resolution to study the formation of planets as they grow in disks around young stars.

The need for a telescope with the power of TMT has been identified in the Canadian Long Range Plan for Astronomy as well as in the US National Academy of Sciences report "Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium" as the highest-priority new ground-based facility for the first decade of the 21st century.

AMEC is the international leader in designing and building telescopes and observatories throughout the world.

AMEC is an international project management and services company that designs, delivers and supports infrastructure assets for customers worldwide across the public and private sectors. AMEC employs 44,000 people in more than 40 countries, generating annual revenues of around CDN $11 billion. AMEC's shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange where the company is listed in the Support Services sector (LSE: AMEC.L).

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Notes to editors:


In Canada, AMEC has 4,000 employees and is the #1 International Design Firm as ranked by Engineering News Record.

The company works across the public and private sectors, locally and internationally and in a range of sectors including transport, oil and gas and power as well as generally across industry and commerce. Specific services include: project management, environmental and technical consultancy, architectural and engineering design, funding and feasibility studies, planning, procurement, construction and multi-technical services, facilities management, maintenance and decommissioning.

AMEC's telescope experience

AMEC is an international leader in building telescope observatories throughout the world, including the twin Keck telescopes which recently detected a 10th planet and moon in our solar system. Other telescopes include the Canada-France Telescope and the International Gemini Project Observatories atop mountains Mauna Kea in Hawaii and Cerro Pachon in Chile. In June 2005, the NASA launched BLAST telescope, designed and constructed by AMEC, studied the early formation of stars.

Thirty-Metre Telescope (

A larger telescope will allow scientists to view the heavens with greater clarity. Current large ground-based telescopes are eight-metres in diameter. TMT's 'mirror' area is 9 times the size of any telescope already in existence. With a larger mirror, scientists can capture more 'light'. As a result, they can see objects that are farther away and fainter. /For further information: Animation and photos are available upon request./ IN: ENVIRONMENT, INTERNATIONAL, RELIGION, SOCIAL, TECHNOLOGY

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