The James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) is the world's premier ground-based facility for astronomical observations at sub-millimetre wavelengths. This status is afforded by three essential ingredients: the size and quality of the telescope, its location, and its aggressive programme of instrumentation.

The JCMT is the largest single-dish telescope in the world designed specifically to operate in the sub-millimetre region of the spectrum (wavelength range 450µm - 1mm). The primary reflector of the JCMT has a diameter of 15 metres and its figure is maintained at an accuracy of just 22µm rms through a programme of periodic holography and panel adjustment. The facility is situated at the summit of Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawaii, at an altitude of 4092m. This is one of the best sites in the world for sub-millimetre astronomy, and certainly the very best in the northern hemisphere.

Two categories of instrument are provided for users of the facility.

  1. Heterodyne receivers are available in a number of atmospheric transmission windows to measure line emission from specific molecules, revealing physical information about the source being observed (composition, temperature, and velocity). One of these receivers, HARP, was commissioned in 2007 and is the world's first array (4x4) receiver operating in the 345-GHz band, providing the JCMT community with a sub-millimetre spectral imaging capability for the first time.
  2. A new continuum camera called SCUBA-2 will be commissioned during 2008 and will offer simultaneous high-fidelity imaging at 450µm and 850µm.

Survey covering a wide range of astrophysical topics has been approved and will take up 55% of the telescope time. The remainder has been set aside for conventional PI-led proposals. It is from this remaining 45% that transnational access will be offered under RadioNet.

The JCMT is a joint project of the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands. The managing agency is the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The Director JCMT is responsible for the operation and development of the telescope. Oversight is provided by the JCMT Board, a governing body which is defined by the tripartite agreement between the agencies. The administrative base for the facility is the Joint Astronomy Centre (JAC), a STFC establishment located at sea level in Hilo, Hawaii.

As a non-European country, Canada has declined to participate in the RadioNet project. Transnational access will be offered from UK and Netherlands telescope time only.


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Prof. G.R. Davis
e-mail: g [dot] davis [at] jach [dot] hawaii [dot] edu
Joint Astronomy Centre
660 N. A'Ohoku Place
University Park
Hilo, Hawaii 96720



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