Hawaii board delays decision on location for giant telescope

April 13, 2018 by Sophia Yan
Hawaii board delays decision on location for giant telescope
In this Aug. 31, 2015 file photo, telescopes are shown on Mauna Kea, Hawaii's tallest mountain and the proposed construction site for a new $1.4 billion telescope, near Hilo, Hawaii. On Friday, April 13, 2018, officials with the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory have delayed a decision whether to continue efforts to construct it at its preferred site in Hawaii or at an alternate site in Spain's Canary Islands. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)

A key decision on where to place a $1.4 billion giant telescope has been delayed.

The board of governors for the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory is still considering whether to allow construction to go forward on the targeted site, Mauna Kea, a mountain in Hawaii. An alternative location in Spain's Canary Islands remains under consideration, the board said in a statement Friday.

"We continue to assess the ongoing situation as we work toward a decision," said Ed Stone, the executive director of the TMT International Observatory. Mauna Kea "remains our preferred choice."

The board hasn't provided a timeline for a decision as it plans to let legal and regulatory challenges play out on both sites.

Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano and Hawaii's tallest mountain, was selected in July 2009 as the target location for the after a five-year search. Scientists called it the best location in the world for astronomy, given a stable, dry, and cold, climate, which allows for sharp images. The atmosphere over the mountain also provides favorable conditions for astronomical measurements, according to the TMT website. But some have protested against the telescope over concerns of environmental impact. Mauna Kea, which is already the site of other telescopes, is considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians.

Hawaii board delays decision on location for giant telescope
This Aug. 31, 2015 file photo shows Mauna Kea, Hawaii's tallest mountain and the proposed construction site for a giant $1.4 billion telescope project, as seen from Hilo, Hawaii. On Friday, April 13, 2018, officials with the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory have delayed a decision whether to continue efforts to construct it at its preferred site in Hawaii or at an alternate site in Spain's Canary Islands. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)
"Thirty years of astronomy development has resulted in adverse significant impact to the natural and cultural resources of Mauna Kea," said Kealoha Pisciotta, president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, an indigenous, Native Hawaiian group that works on environmental issues. "Trying to build more would have added to the cumulative impact."

On Thursday, the Hawaii Senate approved a bill to ban new construction atop Mauna Kea, and included a series of audits and other requirements before the ban could be lifted. But House and Senate versions of the bill differ, so the two chambers would need to negotiate the differences in a conference committee. House leaders say they don't have plans to advance the bill. Democratic House Speaker Scott Saiki told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the "bill is dead on arrival in the House." He said laws concerning the mountain should not be passed while litigation is pending.

There are also two appeals before the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Hawaii board delays decision on location for giant telescope
In this Oct. 7, 2014 photo, protesters block vehicles from getting to the Thirty Meter Telescope groundbreaking ceremony site at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. On Friday, April 13, 2018, officials with the observatory have delayed a decision whether to continue efforts to construct it at its preferred site in Hawaii or at an alternate site in Spain's Canary Islands. (Hollyn Johnson/Hawaii Tribune-Herald via AP)

The telescope project is a collaboration among universities in the U.S. and California, including the University of Hawaii, as well as national science and research institutes of Japan, China, and India.

"It's a privilege to practice astronomy on Mauna Kea and we're not satisfied with where we're at right now," Dan Meisenzahl, a spokesperson for the University of Hawaii, said in a statement. "We will continue to push ourselves to improve our stewardship of the mountain."

Hawaii board delays decision on location for giant telescope
In this Aug. 31, 2015 file photo, telescopes are shown on Mauna Kea, Hawaii's tallest mountain and the proposed construction site for a new $1.4 billion telescope, near Hilo, Hawaii. On Friday, April 13, 2018, officials with the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory have delayed a decision whether to continue efforts to construct it at its preferred site in Hawaii or at an alternate site in Spain's Canary Islands. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)

Explore further: Spain will get giant telescope if Hawaii doesn't, group says

Related Stories

Hawaii governor says telescope-construction timeout extended

April 12, 2015

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Saturday that a nonprofit company planning to build one of the world's largest telescopes atop a mountain many Native Hawaiians consider sacred will maintain a moratorium on construction for another ...

Recommended for you

Superflares from young red dwarf stars imperil planets

October 18, 2018

The word "HAZMAT" describes substances that pose a risk to the environment, or even to life itself. Imagine the term being applied to entire planets, where violent flares from the host star may make worlds uninhabitable by ...

Blazar's brightness cycle confirmed by NASA's Fermi mission

October 18, 2018

A two-year cycle in the gamma-ray brightness of a blazar, a galaxy powered by a supermassive black hole, has been confirmed by 10 years of observations from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The findings were announced ...

Astronomers catch red dwarf star in a superflare outburst

October 18, 2018

New observations by two Arizona State University astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have caught a red dwarf star in a violent outburst, or superflare. The blast of radiation was more powerful than any such outburst ...

Magnetic fields may be the key to black hole activity

October 17, 2018

Collimated jets provide astronomers with some of the most powerful evidence that a supermassive black hole lurks in the heart of most galaxies. Some of these black holes appear to be active, gobbling up material from their ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NoStrings
5 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2018
Everything stops when a lunatic calls something 'sacred'. Sacred how? The telescope is way more sacred, as bringing knowledge to fight superstition, like above. Sacred, lol.
granville583762
5 / 5 (3) Apr 15, 2018
The cyclic protection of Mauna Kea

Permission is granted building starts the guardians protest then permission is refused and building stops. Years go by applying for permission again permission is granted building starts the guardians protest then permission is refused and the building stops - Now planning permission is being sought and in few years time may be 2020 permission is going to granted, the guardians are up building their forces to protest, when the building restarts in a few years time the guardians are going to protest permission is going to be refused and build is going to stop.
This is the second century this telescope is being built but construction is never to be completed, the money and time wasted on this scheme would have built this telescope multiple times over in all the other multiple sites.
tonyrotz
not rated yet Apr 15, 2018
What's sacred about a mountain of rocks and dirt? Nothing. God does not live on a mountain, no matter how sacred you think it may be.

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.