Hawaii land board approves Thirty Meter Telescope (Update)

Apr 13, 2013 by Audrey Mcavoy

A plan by California and Canadian universities to build the world's largest telescope at the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano won approval from the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday.

The decision clears the way for the group managing the Thirty Meter Telescope project to negotiate a sublease for land with the University of Hawaii.

The telescope would be able to observe planets that orbit stars other than the sun and enable astronomers to watch new planets and stars being formed. It should also help scientists see some 13 billion light years away for a glimpse into the early years of the universe.

Construction costs are expected to top $1 billion.

The telescope's segmented primary mirror, which is nearly 100 feet (30 meters) long, will give it nine times the collecting area of the largest optical telescopes in use today. Its images will also be three times sharper.

But the telescope may not hold the world's largest title for long. A group of European countries plans to build the European Extremely Large Telescope, which will have a 138-foot (42-meter)-long mirror.

Some Native Hawaiian groups had petitioned against the project, arguing it would defile the mountain's sacred summit.

Native Hawaiian tradition holds that high altitudes are sacred and are a gateway to heaven. In the past, only high chiefs and priests were allowed at Mauna Kea's summit. The mountain is home to one confirmed burial site and perhaps four more.

Environmentalists also petitioned to stop the telescope on the grounds it would harm habitat for the rare wekiu bug.

The board approved the project anyway, but imposed two dozen conditions including a requirement that employees be trained in culture and natural resources.

The University of California system, the California Institute of Technology and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy are spearheading the telescope. China, India and Japan have signed on to be partners.

The University of Hawaii is involved because it leases the summit land from the state of Hawaii.

Mauna Kea's peak already hosts about a dozen telescopes.

The dormant volcano is popular with astronomers because its summit is well above the clouds at 13,796 feet, offering a clear view of the sky above for 300 days a year.

The state's isolated location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean also means the area is relatively free of air pollution. Few cities on the Big Island mean there aren't a lot of man-made lights around to disrupt observations.

Explore further: Image: Hubble views the whirling disk of NGC 4526

4.9 /5 (12 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

World's largest telescope to be built in Hawaii

Jul 22, 2009

(AP) -- Hawaii was chosen Tuesday as the site for the world's biggest telescope, a device so powerful that it will allow scientists to see some 13 billion light years away and get a glimpse into the early ...

China, India to jump forward with Hawaii telescope

Jan 12, 2012

China and India are catapulting to the forefront of astronomy research with their decision to join as partners in a Hawaii telescope that will be the world's largest when it's built later this decade.

India joins Thirty Meter Telescope project

Jun 25, 2010

The Minister of Science and Technology of India, Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, announced today the decision of India to join the Thirty Meter Telescope Project (TMT) as an Observer. TMT is the next-generation astronomical ...

Recommended for you

Image: Hubble views the whirling disk of NGC 4526

2 minutes ago

This neat little galaxy is known as NGC 4526. Its dark lanes of dust and bright diffuse glow make the galaxy appear to hang like a halo in the emptiness of space in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space ...

Planet-forming lifeline discovered in a binary star system

18 hours ago

Scientists using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have detected a streamer of dust and gas flowing from a massive outer disk toward the inner reaches of a binary star system. This never-before-seen ...

Astronomy & Astrophysics: Planck 2013 results

22 hours ago

Astronomy & Astrophysics is publishing a special feature of 31 articles describing the data gathered by Planck over 15 months of observations and released by ESA and the Planck Collaboration in March 2013. ...

Existence of a group of 'quiet' quasars confirmed

23 hours ago

Aeons ago, the universe was different: mergers of galaxies were common and gigantic black holes with masses equivalent to billions of times that of the Sun formed in their nuclei. As they captured the surrounding ...

User comments : 13

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Pkunk_
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 13, 2013
Native Hawaiian tradition holds that high altitudes are sacred and are a gateway to heaven. In the past, only high chiefs and priests were allowed at Mauna Kea's summit.

Wow , a gateway to the heavens ? That sounds like a great place to setup a planet finder. Maybe if they're lucky they'll spot a blue planet just like Earth.
praos
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 13, 2013
Consecrate it as a temple to some native deity and go ahead.
VendicarE
2.8 / 5 (6) Apr 13, 2013
Construction costs are expected to top $1 billion.

Extimated cost of Bush's campaign of war crimes and mass murder in Iraq and Afghanistan

$4,000 billion.
la7dfa
4 / 5 (1) Apr 13, 2013
I wonder if other locations (outside the USA) has been considered? 300 clear nights a year is not bad, but ESA has chosen Cerro Armazones for EELT (39.3m). Cerro Armazones has 350 clear nights a year. Even Antarctica was considered in search of the best location on Earth.

http://en.wikiped...rmazones
Lurker2358
2.7 / 5 (10) Apr 13, 2013
Construction costs are expected to top $1 billion.

Extimated cost of Bush's campaign of war crimes and mass murder in Iraq and Afghanistan

$4,000 billion.


Muslim terrorists and mid-east dictators are almost certainly a bigger threat than Martians or wormhole aliens.

There is not objectively immoral to retaliate against nations or groups who attacked you first.

They started with the suicide bombings.

"War Crimes" refers to specific acts according to Geneva Convention. Moreover, the convention adopts some standards which are not obviously objectively moral, and even self conflicted.
betterexists
1 / 5 (3) Apr 14, 2013
Does it mean one such from space can take Google map-like views of Earth itself....say 50, 200, 400, 800, 1700, 2900, 4000....6...8...10...100 Thousand years Ago?
Shinichi D_
4 / 5 (4) Apr 14, 2013
I wonder if other locations (outside the USA) has been considered? 300 clear nights a year is not bad, but ESA has chosen Cerro Armazones for EELT (39.3m). Cerro Armazones has 350 clear nights a year. Even Antarctica was considered in search of the best location on Earth.

http://en.wikiped...rmazones


The location was partly chosen because of the location of E-ELT. With VLT, GMT, ALMA, the LSST and the proposed E-ELT, operating or under construction/final design phase in the south, there was a general agreement (mostly), to place at least one extremely large class optical telescope to the north.
jsdarkdestruction
3 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2013
Does it mean one such from space can take Google map-like views of Earth itself....say 50, 200, 400, 800, 1700, 2900, 4000....6...8...10...100 Thousand years Ago?

Yes, kind of. If you were at the right distances away you could see our solar system as it once was.
betterexists
1 / 5 (4) Apr 15, 2013
In such a case, it is highly imperative to immediately send an Appropriate Gadget into the space to take pictures of OUR PAST WHICH WAS LOST FOR US and put it before OUR EYES in 3-D. What is More Valuable than seeing How the World WAS in different periods of the Distant Past! Since FUTURE has NOT YET Played out.....We cannot be that Greedy for it. The Gadget should sure beat/supplement Deep Boring of Lake Bottoms as was reported this year!
Fleetfoot
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 15, 2013
Does it mean one such from space can take Google map-like views of Earth itself....say 50, 200, 400, 800, 1700, 2900, 4000....6...8...10...100 Thousand years Ago?


You could see Earth as it was 50 years ago if you had a telescope 50 light years away now. Of course, launching it now means it might take 5000 years to get there traveling at 1% of the speed of light. You could then see Earth as it will be 4950 years from now.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2013
I wonder if other locations (outside the USA) has been considered?
300 clear nights a year is not bad, but ESA has chosen Cerro Armazones for EELT (39.3m). Cerro Armazones has 350 clear nights a year. Even Antarctica was considered in search of the best location on Earth.

Also is a bit dependent on what part of the sky you want to look at. Cerro Armazones (and especialy Antarctica) are quite a bit more to the south than Hawaii

You could then see Earth as it will be 4950 years from now.

Unfortunately it'll then take another 50 years to get that picture back to Earth.
betterexists
1 / 5 (2) Apr 16, 2013
They are currently talking of Nuclear Fusion Technique to expedite this kind of matters. Hope they send one ASAP when it becomes feasible.
Gigel
not rated yet Apr 16, 2013
Muslim terrorists and mid-east dictators are almost certainly a bigger threat than Martians or wormhole aliens.

There is not objectively immoral to retaliate against nations or groups who attacked you first.

Qualitatively this is justified. Quantitatively... it's a completely different matter.

Just imagine one day USA will put all its war money into research. It may choose to research efficient energy sources, to inhabit oceans and the outer space, to do vertical agriculture and so on. When success will come (and it will, maybe not in all fields attacked, but in 90% of them, I believe), US will be astronomical units, if not light-years away from the world of muslim terrorists, NK psychos and their likes. THAT will be significant, far more than winning a war. It will ensure the US world primacy above world domination. Its current external problems will be unimportant. And muslim states may get below their current level without US need for oil. Why not do that with 4 000 bn $?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.