Construction will begin next year on the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), an instrument that will allow researchers to see galaxies forming 13 billion light years away near the beginning of the universe. The TMT will be the world's largest optical telescope when it's completed later this decade, and it will be capable of creating an image that's three-times sharper than what's possible with the largest telescopes in use today, reports the Associated Press. Its planning project has now gained all but the final piece of regulatory approval needed before construction. The project intends to receive a final approval from the same regulatory body within the next year, and to begin construction in April 2014.
Initial plans for the TMT focused on the need to study the history of star formation in the Milky Way and neighboring galaxies. The project has been in the planning stages for over a decade now, and lately its planners have been working toward gaining permission to build and operate the telescope at the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano. Construction costs for the telescope and observatory are expected to rise above $1 billion dollars. The telescope itself will be just over 98-feet long, and it will eventually be rivaled by the 138-foot long European Extremely Large Telescope, once it's ready for use around 2022.