UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang is at the helm of a project to build one of the largest and most powerful optical telescopes on earth. The University of California Regents agreed last week to allow the UC System to join financial forces with Caltech and international astronomy groups in constructing a $1.4 billion telescope — known as the Thirty Meter Telescope — atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano. Yang, who has served as a chairman of the board overseeing the project since 2007, said that the new telescope will give astronomers the ability to measure the physical properties of the first stars and galaxies to form after the Big Bang and map the evolution of the universe from 13 billion years ago. Each UC campus will contribute to the fundraising effort, but officials said tuition revenue will not be used. The project will break ground later this spring and be in full operation by 2022.