Thirty Meter Telescope needs to revisit earthly fine print

492-mirror loses permit to build on Hawaiian sacred site


Hawaii's planned Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project has been formally sent back to square one in its construction approval process.

The US$ 1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope has been slated for a site in Hawaii for some time, and its consortium had already spent $170 million on construction before court cases stalled it.

The problem is that the telescope's Mauna Kea location is a sacred site in Hawaii, and after years of protests, its opponents in December 2015 secured a key decision in the state's Supreme Court, vacating the telescope's permit.

Last Thursday, things got worse for the TMT, with Hilo Circuit judge Greg Nakamura sending the project's approval back to square one. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports that the hearing formalises a new round of hearings by the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources.

While the TMT says it's committed to continuing with the project, re-starting the approvals process will be a slow process.

Since last year's Supreme Court decision found that the board didn't give opponents of the project the chance to contest it, the approval could take longer this time around.

The project suffered the nearly-inevitable hack last year, because it's obvious that preventing people looking at a Website stops bulldozers in their tracks.

The TMT's design is for a telescope with 492 segmented mirrors, adaptive optics to reduce blur, and detection from 0.31 to 28 μm wavelengths (that is, from the near-ultraviolet to the mid-infrared). ®


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