NSF statement on U.S. Extremely Large Telescope program proposals


August 13, 2020

Due to Privacy Act restrictions, NSF typically cannot identify the organizations or associated details of funding proposals it receives.  However, three organizations publicly disclosed their submission of proposals to NSF for planning and design of a U.S. Extremely Large Telescope program.  NSF can, therefore, confirm receipt of proposals from the organizations developing the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), and NSF’s NOIRLab (a federally funded research and development center). 

NSF understands that potential construction of TMT on Maunakea is a sensitive issue and plans to engage in early and informal outreach efforts with stakeholders, including Native Hawaiians, to listen to and seek an understanding of their viewpoints. If NSF ultimately initiates a formal federal environmental review process, this advance outreach would serve as a precursor to it.

NSF’s receipt of a proposal and its initiation of an informal outreach effort are not reflective of NSF’s position regarding any project. To request a discussion with NSF related to Maunakea and potential NSF involvement in the TMT project, please contact us by e-mail at: AST-MK@nsf.gov.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $8.3 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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