20 Year Celebration of Large Millimeter Telescope Project (LMT)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A conference celebrating the 20th anniversary of an agreement to build the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) as a collaboration between the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE) in Mexico was held on November 18 and 19 at INAOE in Tonantzintla, just outside the city of Puebla, Mexico. The LMT is the largest radio telescope of its kind in the world, and it is now producing its first scientific results. Professors Peter Schloerb, Steve Schneider and Bill Irvine from the UMass Astronomy Department were invited attendees at the conference. Schneider, Head of Astronomy, presented greetings and congratulations from the UMass administration; while Schloerb, UMass PI on the project, described the ambition, dedication, and collaboration that were required to bring to the telescope to fruition.
The meeting’s first day was devoted to a review of the development, achievement, and impact of the LMT project, including talks by officials from CONACyT (the “Mexican NSF”) and the Mexican Space Agency, representatives of several of the major companies participating in the project, and senior astronomers from UMass and INAOE. The second day featured some of the first scientific data from observations with the LMT, with UMass professor Daniel Wang and Astronomy graduate student Allison Kirkpatrick (lead author on the first published paper based on LMT results) participating from the US by SKYPE. The LMT is about to begin the third round of “early science”, in which scientists from UMass, INAOE and their collaborators from around the world use the telescope to study fundamental processes of star formation and the structure of galaxies, from our own Milky Way to the most distant objects in the universe. This third round of science received 65 proposals for observations with the LMT, involving almost 300 astronomers form some 100 scientific institutions.