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  • richardmitnick 10:38 am on October 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope   

    From NYT: “Under Hawaii’s Starriest Skies, a Fight Over Sacred Ground” 

    New York Times

    The New York Times

    OCT. 3, 2016
    DENNIS OVERBYE

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    A panorama of the Milky Way from Mauna Kea, Hawaii. From left, University of Hawaii 2.2 Meter Telescope, Mauna Kea Summit, Kilauea Volcano under cloud cover and Mauna Loa. Credit Joe Marquez

    MAUNA KEA, Hawaii — Little lives up here except whispering hopes and a little bug called Wekiu.

    Three miles above the Pacific, you are above almost half the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere and every step hurts. A few minutes in the sun will fry your skin. Brains and fingers go numb. At night, the stars are so close they seem tangled in your hair.

    Two years ago, this mountaintop was the scene of a cosmic traffic jam: honking horns, vans and trucks full of astronomers, V.I.P.s, journalists, businesspeople, politicians, protesters and police — all snarled at a roadblock just short of the summit.

    Abandoning their cars, some of the visitors started to hike up the hill toward what would have been a groundbreaking for the biggest and most expensive stargazing machinery ever built in the Northern Hemisphere: the Thirty Meter Telescope, 14 years and $1.4 billion in the making.

    They were assembling on a plateau just below the summit, when Joshua Mangauil, better known by his Hawaiian name of Lanakila, then 27, barged onto the scene. Resplendent in a tapa cloth, beads, a red loin cloth, his jet black hair in a long Mohawk, he had hiked over the volcano’s cinder cones barefoot.

    “Like snakes you are. Vile snakes,” he yelled. “We gave all of our aloha to you guys, and you slithered past us like snakes.”

    “For what? For your greed to look into the sky? You guys can’t take care of this place.”


    Access mp4 video here .

    No ground was broken that day or since.

    To astronomers, the Thirty Meter Telescope would be a next-generation tool to spy on planets around other stars or to peer into the cores of ancient galaxies, with an eye sharper and more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, another landmark in humanity’s quest to understand its origins.

    But to its opponents, the telescope would be yet another eyesore despoiling an ancient sacred landscape, a gigantic 18-story colossus joining the 13 telescopes already on Mauna Kea.

    Later this month, proponents and opponents of the giant telescope will face off in a hotel room in the nearby city of Hilo for the start of hearings that will lead to a decision on whether the telescope can be legally erected on the mountain.

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    A panorama of a sunset over Mauna Kea observatory, home to more than a dozen telescopes. From left, the 8-meter Subaru (Japan), the twin 10-meter Keck I and II (California) and the 3-meter NASA Infrared Telescope Facility. Credit Babak Tafreshi/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

    Over the years, some have portrayed this fight as a struggle between superstition and science. Others view the telescope as another symbol of how Hawaiians have been unfairly treated since Congress annexed the islands — illegally in the eyes of many — in 1898. And still others believe it will bring technology and economic development to an impoverished island.

    “This is a very simple case about land use,” Kealoha Pisciotta, a former telescope operator on Mauna Kea who has been one of the leaders of a group fighting telescope development on the mountain for the last decade. “It’s not science versus religion. We’re not the church. You’re not Galileo.”

    Hanging in the balance is perhaps the best stargazing site on Earth. “Mauna Kea is the flagship of American and international astronomy,” said Doug Simons, the director of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Mauna Kea. “We are on the precipice of losing this cornerstone of U.S. prestige.”

    CFHT Telescope, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
    CFHT Telescope, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    Big Glass Dreams

    The road to the stars once ended in California at Palomar Mountain, whose 200-inch-diameter telescope was long considered the size limit. The bigger a telescope mirror is, the more light it can capture and the fainter and farther it can see — out in space, back in time.

    Caltech Palomar 200 inch Hale Telescope, at Mt Wilson, CA, USA
    Caltech Palomar 200 inch Hale Telescope, at Mt Wilson, CA, USA

    In the 1990s, however, astronomers learned how to build telescopes with thin mirrors that relied on computer-adjusted supports to keep them from sagging or warping.

    There was an explosion of telescope building that has culminated, for now, in plans for three giant billion-dollar telescopes: the European Extremely Large Telescope and the Giant Magellan, both in Chile, and the Thirty Meter Telescope.

    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile
    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile

    Giant Magellan Telescope, Las Campanas Observatory, to be built  some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile
    Giant Magellan Telescope, Las Campanas Observatory, to be built some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile

    Not only would they have a Brobdingnagian appetite for light, but they are designed to incorporate a new technology called adaptive optics, which can take the twinkle out of starlight by adjusting telescope mirrors to compensate for atmospheric turbulence.

    Richard Ellis, a British astronomer now at the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany, recalled being optimistic in 1999 when he arrived at the California Institute of Technology to begin developing what became known as the Thirty Meter Telescope. “The stock market was booming,” he said. “Everything seemed possible.”

    Canada, India and Japan eventually joined the project, now officially known as the TMT International Observatory. It has been helped along by The Betty and Gordon Moore Foundation, formed by the founder of Intel, which has contributed advice and $180 million.

    The telescope, originally scheduled to be completed by 2024, is modeled on the revolutionary 10-meter-diameter Keck telescopes that Caltech and the University of California operate on Mauna Kea. Like them, it will have with a segmented mirror composed of small, hexagonal pieces of glass fitted together into an expanse wider than a tennis court.

    Who is Hawaiian, anyway? Very few Hawaiian citizens can claim full Hawaiian ancestry; many if not most are of mixed heritage. And there are…
    Bill Briggs 2 minutes ago

    I would think that the use of the mountain for scientific purposes could be thought of by the native population as a way for the ancestral…
    Richard 55 minutes ago

    Although not a native Hawaiian, I also consider Mauna Kea to be a sacred place, *because* of the telescopes that reside there. I believe it…

    There are only a few places on Earth that are dark, dry and calm enough to be fit for a billion-dollar telescope.

    Rising 33,000 feet from the seafloor, Mauna Kea is the second biggest mountain in the solar system – only Olympus Mons on Mars is greater. The dormant ancient volcano has been the center of Polynesian culture — the umbilical cord connecting Earth and sky — seemingly forever.

    The mountain is part of so-called “ceded lands” that originally belonged to the Hawaiian Kingdom and are now administered by the state for the benefit of Hawaiians.

    On its spare, merciless summit, craters and cinder cones of indefinable age keep company with a variety pack of architectural shapes housing telescopes.

    In 1968 the University of Hawaii took out a 65-year lease on 11,000 acres for a dollar a year. Some 500 acres of that are designated as a science preserve. It includes the ice age quarry from which stone tools were being cut a thousand years ago, and hundreds of shrines and burial grounds.

    The first telescope went up in 1970. Many rapidly followed.

    Places like Mauna Kea are “cradles of knowledge,” said Natalie Batalha, one of the leaders of NASA’s Kepler planet-hunting mission. “I am filled with reverence and humility every time I get to be physically present at a mountaintop observatory.”

    But some Hawaiians worried that knowledge was coming at too great a cost.

    “All those telescopes got put up with no thought beyond reviving the Hilo economy,” said Michael Bolte, an astronomer from the University of California, Santa Cruz, who serves on the TMT board.

    “Not a lot of thought was given to culture issues.”

    Some native Hawaiians complained that their beloved mountain had grown “pimples,” and that the telescope development had interfered with cultural and religious practices that are protected by state law.

    4
    A panorama of Mauna Kea and the nonoptical telescopes on the mountain. From left, Caltech Submillimeter Observatory; James Clerk Maxwell Telescope; and the Submillimeter Array, consisting of several 6-meter dishes. Credit Babak Tafreshi/National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

    Construction trash sometimes rolled down the mountain, said Nelson Ho, a photographer and Sierra Club leader who complained to the university. “They wouldn’t listen,” he said. “They just kept playing king of the mountain.”

    An audit by the State of Hawaii in 1998 scolded the university for failing to protect the mountain and its natural and cultural resources. An environmental impact study performed by NASA in 2007 similarly concluded that 30 years of astronomy had caused “significant, substantial and adverse” harm to Mauna Kea.

    A Step Back for NASA

    The tide began to shift in 2001 when NASA announced a plan to add six small telescopes called outriggers to the Keck complex. The outriggers would be used in concert with the big telescopes as interferometers to test ideas a for a future space mission dedicated to looking for planets around other stars.

    Ms. Pisciotta led a band of environmentalists and cultural practitioners who went to court to stop NASA. The group included the Hawaiian chapter of the Sierra Club and the Royal Order of Kamehameha, devoted to restoring the Kingdom of Hawaii.

    Ms. Pisciotta said she had once dreamed of being a cosmologist but lacked the requisite math skills and instead took a night job operating a radio telescope on Mauna Kea. She became disenchanted when a family shrine disappeared from the summit and the plans for the outriggers impinged on a cinder cone.

    “Cinder cones are burial sites. It’s time to not let this go on,” she said. The group prepared for court by reading popular books about trials.

    In 2007, Hawaii’s third district court found the management plan for the outriggers was flawed and revoked the building permit.

    “NASA packed up and left,” Ms. Pisciotta said.

    Encountering Aloha

    The prospective builders of the TMT knew they had their work cut out for them.

    In 2007, the Moore Foundation hired Peter Adler, a consultant and sociologist, to look into the consequences of putting the telescope in Hawaii.

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    Thirty Meter Telescope protesters walking on a road in 2015 during the first of many blockades that started at the Mauna Kea visitors center, stopping TMT construction vehicles from driving to the summit of the mountain. Credit Hollyn Johnson/Hawaii Tribune-Herald, via Associated Press .

    “Should TMT decide to pursue a Mauna Kea site,” his report warned, “it will inherit the anger, fear and great mistrust generated through previous telescope planning and siting failures and an accumulated disbelief that any additional projects, especially a physically imposing one like the TMT, can be done properly.”

    The astronomers picked a telescope site that was less anthropologically sensitive, on a plateau below the summit with no monuments or other obvious structures on it. They agreed to pay $1 million a year, a fifth of which would go to the state’s Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the rest to stewardship of the mountain.

    Quietly, they also pledged another $2 million a year toward science and technology education and work force development on the island of Hawaii. The Moore Foundation also put some $2 million into the Imiloa Astronomy Center, a museum and planetarium run by the University of Hawaii.

    Dr. Bolte, a mild-mannered U.C.S.C. professor with a soothing lilt to his voice, became one of the most visible promoters of the project in community meetings.

    He recalled going to a meeting in Hilo once where tensions were very high. Afterward, he said, he was afraid to go out to his car.

    Sure enough, a crowd rushed him when he got there. “What kind of astronomy do you do?” they asked eagerly.

    “The aloha spirit really exists,” Dr. Bolte said.

    “Exploring the universe is a wonderful thing humans do,” he added. Nevertheless, “there was a core we never won over.”

    “In retrospect, we might have underestimated the strength of the sovereignty movement.”

    The Hawaiian Renaissance

    In the years since the first telescopes went up on Mauna Kea, Hawaiian people and culture had experienced a resurgence of pride known as the Hawaiian Renaissance.

    In 1976, a band of Hawaiians sailed the outrigger canoe Hokulea from Hawaii to Tahiti. The feat showed how ancient Polynesians could have purposefully explored and colonized the Pacific, navigating the seas using only the sun, stars, ocean swells and wind.

    TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope, proposed for Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
    TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope, proposed for Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    “And that was the first spark of shutting up everybody who said that we were inferior, that we were not intelligent,” Mr. Mangauil, the protester, said.

    In 1978, the state recognized Hawaiian, which once had been banned from schools, as an official language.

    With rising pride came — at least among some more vocal native Hawaiians — questions about whether the occupation and annexation of Hawaii by the United States in the 1890s was legal.

    Telescopes on a sacred mountain constitute a form of “colonial violence,” in the words of J. Kehaulani Kauanui, an anthropologist at Wesleyan University.

    Or as Robert Kirshner, a Harvard professor who is now also chief science officer at the Moore Foundation, put it, “The question in that case become not so much whether you did the environmental impact statement right, but whose island is it?”

    Having cut their teeth fighting the outrigger project, Ms. Pisciotta’s group, known informally as the Mauna Kea Hui, was prepared when the TMT Corporation formally selected the mountain for its site in 2009.

    Many Hawaiians welcomed the telescope project. At a permit hearing, Wallace Ishibashi Jr., whose family had an ancestral connection to Mauna Kea, compared the Thirty Meter’s mission to the search for aumakua, the ancestral origins of the universe.

    “Hawaiians,” he said, “have always been a creative and adaptive people.”

    Ms. Pisciotta and her friends argued among other things that an 18-story observatory, which would be the biggest structure on the whole island of Hawaii, did not fit in a conservation district.

    In a series of hearings in 2010 and 2011, the state land board approved a permit for the telescope but then stipulated that no construction could begin until a so-called contested case hearing, in which interested parties could present their arguments, was held.

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    An ahu made of rocks at the base of the road that goes up to the visitors center on Mauna Kea. Credit Kent Nishimura

    The Walk of Fame

    The state won that hearing, and a groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled for Oct. 7, 2014.

    The groundbreaking was never intended to be a public event, said Bob McClaren, associate director of the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, which is responsible for scientific activities on the mountain.

    “I thought it was reasonable to restrict access to those who were invited,” he said.

    Mr. Mangauil, who makes his living teaching hula dancing and Hawaiian culture, said later that he had wanted only to make the astronomers feel uncomfortable to be on the mountain and to get protesters’ signs in view of the television cameras.

    In an interview, he said he had nothing against science or astronomy, but did not want it on his mountain.

    “Our connection to the mountain is like, that’s our elder, the mother of our resources,” he said. “We’re talking about the wau akua, the realm of where the gods live.”

    There are no shrines on the very summit, he pointed out, which should be a lesson: Not even the most holy people are supposed to go there.

    Unable to get to the groundbreaking, the Hawaiians formed their own blockade. Tempers flared.

    “We were seeing the native Hawaiian movement flexing its muscles,” Dr. Bolte said.

    Seeing people hiking up the mountain past the port-o-potties, Mr. Mangauil stormed after them and wound up on the hood of a ranger truck, even more angry.

    Guarding the Mountain

    Lanakila’s barefoot run set the tone for two years of unrest and demonstrations.

    Protesters calling themselves Guardians of the Mountain set up a permanent vigil across the road from the Mauna Kea visitor center, stopping telescope construction crews and equipment from going up. Dozens were arrested.

    Gov. David Ige has tried to appease both sides. While saying that “we have in many ways failed the mountain,” he said the Thirty Meter Telescope should go forward, but at least three other telescopes would have to come down.

    6
    Lanakila Mangauil poses for a portrait with the Hawaiian state flag draped on his shoulders, near Pu‘uhuluhulu hill on Mauna Kea. Credit Kent Nishimura

    Astronomers and business leaders grew frustrated that the state was not doing enough to keep the road open for construction trucks and workers.

    “The result of the faulty law enforcement surrounding Mauna Kea is fostering tension, aggression, racism and business uncertainty,” business organizations and the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce wrote to the governor. “Ambiguity surrounding the rule of law has prompted a poor economic climate.”

    Stopping trucks on the steep slope was dangerous, said Dr. Bolte, adding that “people were basically trapped at the summit.”

    Dr. Simons, the Canada-France-Hawaii director, grew increasingly worried about the effect of the protests on the astronomers, who became reluctant to be identified as observatory staffers.

    “It really tugged at us to see the staff going from being proud to scared in a matter of weeks,” he said.

    Meanwhile Ms. Pisciotta‘s coalition was plugging through the courts.

    On Dec. 2, the Hawaiian Supreme Court revoked the telescope building permit, ruling that the state had violated due process by handing out the permit before the contested case hearing.

    “Quite simply, the Board put the cart before the horse when it issued the permit,” the court wrote.

    Game of Domes

    By mid-December, Clarence Ching, another member of the opposition, stood in a crowd with other Hawaiians and watched trucks carrying equipment retreat from the mountain.

    “David had beaten Goliath,” he said. “We were even happy and sad at the same time — sad, for instance, that somebody had to lose — as we had fought hard and long.”

    The court’s decision set the stage for a new round of hearings, now scheduled to start in mid-October. The case, presided over by Riki May Amano, a retired judge appointed by the Land Board, is likely to last longer than the first round, which consumed seven days of hearings over a few weeks, partly because there are more parties this time around.

    Among them is the pro-telescope Hawaiian group called Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities or PUEO, who contend the benefits of the TMT to the community have been undersold.

    Whoever wins this fall’s contested case hearing, the decision is sure to be quickly appealed to the Hawaiian Supreme Court.

    In an interview, Edward Stone, a Caltech professor and vice president of the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory, the group that will build the telescope, set April 2018 as the deadline for beginning construction. Depending on how it goes in Hawaii or elsewhere, the telescope could be ready sometime in the last half of the next decade.

    “We need to start building this thing somewhere,” he said.

    “We still hope Hawaii will work,” he added. “What we need is a timely permit, and we need access to the mountain once we have a permit.”

    But there is no guarantee that even if the astronomers succeed in court they will prevail on the mountain. In an email exchange, J. Douglas Ing, lawyer for the TMT Observatory, said they were “cautiously optimistic” that local agencies would uphold the law, but the astronomers have also been investigating alternative sites in Mexico, Chile, India, China and the Canary Islands.

    “It’s wise of the TMT to be exploring other sites,” said Richard Wurdeman, the lawyer for the Mauna Kea Hui.

    I asked Ms. Pisciotta what would happen if the giant telescope finally wins.

    “It would be really hard for Hawaiian people to swallow that,” she said. “It’s always been our way to lift our prayers up to heaven and hope they hear us.”

    Dr. Bolte said he had learned to not make predictions about Hawaii.

    In a recent email, he recalled photographing a bunch of short-eared Hawaiian owls. “These are called pueo, and they are said to be the physical form of ancestor spirits,” Dr. Bolte recounted.

    Referring to the Hawaiian term for a wise elder, he said, “I had one kupuna tell me it was a great sign for TMT that so many pueo sought me out that trip, and another tell me it was a sign that we should leave the island immediately before a calamity falls on TMT.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 2:57 pm on September 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Big Island Has Too Much To Lose If TMT Leaves, , TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope   

    For TMT From Honolulu CIVIL BEAT: “Big Island Has Too Much To Lose If TMT Leaves” 

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    Honolulu Civil Beat

    9.21.16
    Ben Todd

    The proposal to build the Thirty Meter Telescope near the existing telescope complex at the top of Mauna Kea has gone from a project that has been in development for over 10 years, backed by a multinational effort, to one that was approved and broke ground, to one that is now bogged down by fierce opposition and negative court decisions.

    There is so much at stake in the outcome of this debate. I believe that Kealoha Pisciotta, the president of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou, should decide to drop her group’s lawsuit seeking to block the granting of a building permit to the TMT group. I don’t suggest this lightly or flippantly, as if there is no debate to be had. In the best-case scenario, the Mauna Kea Anaina Hou’s lawsuit and general opposition may be the main factor in ensuring that everything about this project is done in the right way and in the best interests of the people of the Big Island.

    However, I don’t believe there is by any means a negative consensus among the Native Hawaiian community as to the moral and cultural implications of the project. The environmental concerns of the project are addressable and able to be overcome. Most importantly, we cannot lose sight of what the existing Big Island astronomy sector means to Hawaii and what we stand to lose by rejecting the TMT project.

    This debate very well may determine if Hawaii — and more specifically, the Big Island — will disappear as a world leader in astronomy or step forward as the undisputed center of the astronomy world.

    We should not see the TMT project as disrespectful to the Hawaiian culture because the endeavor is so noble, benefiting all mankind and allowing the Hawaiian people to shine. This project should be seen as an honor to the Hawaiian culture.

    It is true that some Native Hawaiians have expressed a negative view of the TMT project in terms of cultural respect. However, some Native Hawaiians see it differently, such as Keahi Warfield, leader of the Native Hawaiian group called Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities Inc.

    Warfield pointed out in a piece in May by Nancy Cook Lauer for Hawaii Tribune-Herald, “‘Even when land is considered sacred, that doesn’t mean people can’t use it,’ he said. PUEO’s members say telescopes atop Mauna Kea won’t diminish their culture because (the telescopes) provide youth of all cultures an opportunity to use modern-day tools to learn and explore their universe.”

    Even a former Hawaiian king shared a similar opinion. King Kalakaua is quoted from September 1874 in a Smithsonian article saying, “ ‘It will afford me unfeigned satisfaction if my kingdom can add its quota toward the successful accomplishment of the most important astronomical observation of the present century and assist, however humbly, the enlightened nations of the earth in these costly enterprises…’”

    If we can’t agree that serving as home to TMT is a full honor, maybe we can at least agree that it is not an egregious affront to Hawaiian culture and move on to discussing some environmental concerns that definitely do merit attention.

    We should assure with 100 percent certainty that the aquifer that has its origins near the proposed building site is incapable of sustaining contamination due to TMT activity. Opposition groups have a right to be concerned as the aquifer supplies clean water to the east side of the island, and Pisciotta has said a more robust study on the impact to the aquifer is called for.

    Although the concern is valid, there is no reason that this issue has to be one that stops the TMT from being built, as it represents an engineering problem that is completely solvable.

    A TMT spokesperson told Civil Beat, “… there’s no way that anything that goes into the ground near the planned telescope can get into the aquifer. ‘It can’t happen,’ [Sandra] Dawson said. ‘It’s a physical thing, it’s not an opinion thing.’ ” The TMT group also says that all wastewater will be physically taken off the mountain.

    Economic, Educational Opportunities

    The TMT group is convinced, then, the aquifer will be protected, though they have a vested interest in that opinion. But if there is any question as to the veracity of that claim, then we as a community should insist that a truly independent expert concurs or disagrees. Astronomy is too important to the Big Island to allow a solvable problem go unsolved and destroy the future of astronomy in that environment.

    Besides the problems of cultural perspective and environmental protection, there are the consequences of not building the TMT to consider, as well.

    We should move forward with the TMT project because we cannot afford to lose the economic and educational opportunities that come with it. Hawaii Island was the majority beneficiary in our state of the $168 million impact of the astronomy sector in 2012; that sector ranges in impact from one quarter to one half of other major economic sectors in Hawaii.

    The people of the Big Island already have very little in the way of native industry, and poverty is a significant issue. Similarly, the children of the Big Island have few educational and future job opportunities.

    TMT currently donates $1 million to science education on the Big Island, and the current observatories are conducting a workforce pipeline for K-12 students. These yearly economic impacts and educational opportunities only figure to increase with the addition of the world’s largest telescope, the TMT.

    Besides these tangible effects of not building the TMT, what about the effects of letting a minority group dictate policy that the majority does not agree with?

    We should not let the project be blocked, because the majority of Hawaii residents are in favor of the TMT. A recent statewide poll showed that 62 percent of Hawaii residents, including 59 percent of Big Island residents, are in favor of the TMT being built.

    We live in a society that generally accepts rule by majority opinion. This is, in fact, the underpinning principle of our society. We should honor that principle and not stand in the way of what the majority favor. If we lived in a society where a minority group continually dictated policy, it would undoubtedly lead to discontent, undermining our way of living.

    We must not lose site of the big picture amidst the TMT controversy. The issue of cultural respect can very much be seen as a matter of perspective. While I would clearly see something like building a McDonald’s in front of a graveyard as disrespectful, I think it is reasonable that we should see the TMT as something glorious and as representing the virtuous aspects of mankind, like a cathedral.

    While environmental concerns are valid and should be heard, they don’t represent a strong objection or one that cannot be properly addressed in this case. There is so much at stake for the Hawaiian people in the debate as to whether the Big Island community should allow the TMT project to proceed. We must preserve the precious economic and educational opportunities brought by the astronomy sector to the Big Island. We cannot afford to rip these opportunities out of the hands of the Big Island community and children.

    Indeed, as Günther Hasinger, director of the UH Institute for Astronomy puts it, “If the lease is not renewed, ‘it would be the end of astronomy in Hawaii as we know it…’” We should politely ask Pisciotta and the Mauna Kea Anaina Hou to drop their lawsuit against the TMT’s request for a building permit.

    See the full article here .

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    Near the center of Pasadena, California, a team of scientists, engineers, and project specialists is busily planning and designing what eventually will become the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth. When completed later this decade, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time.
    Partners
    The Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy
    California Institute of Technology
    Department of Science and Technology of India
    The National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC)
    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
    University of California

     
  • richardmitnick 5:19 am on June 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Test case for vacating approved permitting in US courts, TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope   

    From Hawaii News Now via TMT: “Judge will allow certain groups to participate in TMT contested case hearing” 

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    Hawaii News Now

    June 18th 2016
    Ben Gutierrez

    Retired Judge Riki May Amano on Friday approved requests by the Thirty Meter Telescope and the group Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities to be parties in the contested case hearing over the permit for the controversial telescope.

    Amano also approved 14 other groups and individuals who can file motions and call witnesses, and who are required to participate in any proceedings ahead of the hearing itself.

    Amano offered those who applied to be parties to be witnesses instead. Five applicants chose that option.

    There are now 24 parties involved in the hearing, including the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Mauna Kea Ainanahou, a group opposed to the $1.4 billion telescope and represented by attorney Richard Wurdeman.

    Those parties indicated that they would call upwards of 150 witnesses.

    Amano told the parties that with that number of witnesses, she expects the hearing to take three to four weeks. She said the hearings would be held on the Big Island.

    More than a hundred people jammed a small conference room at the Hilo State Office Building before Amani cleared the room because it was over capacity. Those who applied to be parties were then allowed back in. Any available seats left — about 40 — were then opened to the general public. The rest remained outside.

    Amano plans to have a pre-hearing conference to set dates for additional conferences and the hearing itself.

    Friday’s decision is another step toward the required repeat of the 2011 proceeding that was shot down in December by the Hawaii Supreme Court. The court ruled last year that the State Board of Land and Natural Resources should not have approved the permit for the project before all evidence was presented.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Near the center of Pasadena, California, a team of scientists, engineers, and project specialists is busily planning and designing what eventually will become the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth. When completed later this decade, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time.
    Partners
    The Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy
    California Institute of Technology
    Department of Science and Technology of India
    The National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC)
    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
    University of California

     
  • richardmitnick 3:33 pm on June 1, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope, West Hawaii Today   

    From West Hawaii Today via TMT: “TMT and the importance of scientific discovery” 

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    West Hawaii Today

    May 27, 2016
    Arne Werchick / My Turn

    I am distressed to see that the anti-intellectualism, which drove the 16th century dispute between Galileo and the Pope, is evidently alive and well today and reflected on your editorial page in “TMT and Christopher Columbus” on May 24. Five hundred years ago it was decreed that mankind didn’t need to know the facts that made our universe work but was simply to accept the word revealed by the church in Rome — a thoroughly incorrect revealed word as was in fact already known to many even at that time. Today, a few apparently hold that science must yield to religion because the theoretical knowledge to be gained from the Thirty Meter Telescope is deemed “frivolous at best.” I had thought, on the contrary, that modern educated society had concluded that religion and science ought to work together to appreciate how and why the universe functions.

    Was it not this integrated spirit that struck so many on Earth when on Christmas Eve 1968 the crew of Apollo 8, the first manned mission to orbit the moon, broadcast a reading from Genesis? Believers and non-believers alike were touched by this amalgam of cutting-edge science and the traditional beliefs of many. In 2014, Pope Francis, virtually declaring that “science versus religion” thinking must end, urged that religion and science are not irreconcilable at all but instead must be seen as cooperative, that the “Big Bang” origin of the universe and subsequent evolution of man are not incompatible with faith but part of it.

    It is nonsense to protest against the TMT by arguing that we don’t need to know the information it will provide because theoretical astrophysics doesn’t have practical utility, no “visions of spices and jewels, gold, silks and perfumes sure to swell the royal coffers” as the previous writer claimed. The reality is that in the history of man all scientific knowledge has value. It is the very nature of discovery that at that precise moment we can’t know its full practical potential. That’s why we pursue theoretical science on the understanding that the practical side catches up later. Did anyone really appreciate the implications when Watson and Crick (and the unsung Wilkins and Franklin) discovered DNA in 1953? Yet now, in but a heartbeat of history, so much of medicine, biology, and even law are the outgrowth of that discovery.

    It is science fantasy to argue that “the future of cosmic investigation will be based from space on satellites and planets and moons.” The Hubble telescope will come to the end of its useful life, which may be as early as 2018, and we are decades, if not a century, away from establishing astrophysical research stations on the moon, Mars or Ceres, assuming we have the finances and political will ever to do that. TMT will let us see the universe a cosmological instant after its origin. This could lead to understanding how gravity came to exist, how the elements originated and dispersed, perhaps even how time exists and functions or whether we have living company in this cosmos. Mysterious concepts, yes, but with the potential to move science forward for generations.

    More down to Earth, the argument that science must step aside for religion misconceives American constitutional and statutory law. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, upon which the legal objections to TMT rest, says that the First Amendment guarantee means that government cannot impose unnecessary burdens upon the free exercise of religion, not that every religious belief held by every person can bring government to a halt. Avoiding improper interference can be achieved by providing security for religious sites, by careful land use properly respectful of religious attitudes toward that land and by other accommodations.

    Obviously, the process in Hawaii is complicated by the fact that no one person or group speaks for Hawaiian religious history or tradition, and this will be for the courts to sort out. But it is hard to understand how the religion of perhaps the greatest astronomical navigators of all time, the ancient Hawaiian mariners, is degraded in the slightest by modern science using a deliberately moderate footprint on the mountain top — smaller than some of the existing observatories which will be decommissioned — to unlock even more knowledge of the stars. I, for one, cannot imagine a greater monument to those who crossed the Pacific by following the stars than the construction of TMT.

    Arne Werchick is a resident of Kailua-Kona

    See the full article here .

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    Near the center of Pasadena, California, a team of scientists, engineers, and project specialists is busily planning and designing what eventually will become the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth. When completed later this decade, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time.
    Partners
    The Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy
    California Institute of Technology
    Department of Science and Technology of India
    The National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC)
    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
    University of California

     
  • richardmitnick 11:01 am on May 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope   

    From Honolulu Star Advertiser via TMT: “Pro-telescope Native Hawaiians seek hearing participation” 

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    May 20, 2016
    Associated Press
    No writer credit found

    A Native Hawaiian nonprofit educational corporation that’s supportive of building a giant telescope atop Mauna Kea is asking to participate in a hearing for the project’s construction permit.

    In a motion filed with the state land board this week, Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, Inc., known as PUEO, says the Thirty Meter Telescope will enhance educational opportunities for children. The organization’s board members “include native Hawaiians who seek knowledge and understanding and exercise customary and traditional native Hawaiian rights on Mauna Kea,” the motion said.

    Unlike those who protest the project, the group’s members say the telescope won’t diminish their culture.

    Some Native Hawaiians who oppose the project have also asked to participate, along with the nonprofit corporation that wants to build it.

    A new contested case hearing is necessary because the state Supreme Court ruled last year the land board should not have issued a permit to build on conservation land before holding a hearing to evaluate a petition challenging the project’s approval.

    A June 17 hearing in Hilo is scheduled to determine who may participate.

    PUEO’s board members are native Hawaiians from the Keaukaha-Paneewa Hawaiian Homesteads in Hilo who “exercise customary and traditional native Hawaiian rights on Mauna Kea,” the motion said.

    “The construction of telescopes on Mauna Kea utilized for viewing the celestial heavens and conducting valid research into the many galaxies that exist beyond our planet has never diminished my ability to be a native Hawaiian,” Shadd Keahi Warfield wrote in a declaration included with the motion. Infrastructure such as roads, restrooms and snow removal created by the telescopes already on Mauna Kea have allowed him to learn more about his culture there, he wrote.

    Patrick Leo Kahawaiolaa’s declaration also notes that Mauna Kea infrastructure has made it easier to practice Hawaiian culture on the mountain.

    “Before the construction of the summit road, our na kapuna walked or rode horses … or needed four-wheeled vehicle to get to the summit,” he wrote. “But now, because of the telescopes, they maintain the road so that we can drive to the top.”

    Those who want to be a party to the contested case hearing have until May 31 to submit requests.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Near the center of Pasadena, California, a team of scientists, engineers, and project specialists is busily planning and designing what eventually will become the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth. When completed later this decade, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time.
    Partners
    The Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy
    California Institute of Technology
    Department of Science and Technology of India
    The National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC)
    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
    University of California

     
  • richardmitnick 6:23 am on May 7, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , JUDGE RIKI MAY AMANO AFFIRMED AS TMT CONTESTED CASE OFFICER, TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope   

    From Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resource via TMT: ” Judge Riki May Amano Affirmed as TMT Contested Case Officer, Sixteen Page Land Board Decision Directs Judge Amano to Proceed” 

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    JUDGE RIKI MAY AMANO AFFIRMED AS TMT CONTESTED CASE OFFICER
    Sixteen Page Land Board Decision Directs Judge Amano to Proceed

    (HONOLULU) – All seven members of the Hawai‘i Board of Land and Natural Resources (Board), in a decision released today, directed retired Hawai‘i island Judge Riki May Amano to proceed as the contested case hearing officer for the Conservation Use District Application (CDUA) for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) at the Mauna Kea Science Reserve.

    In response to objections raised by certain parties (“Petitioners”) to Judge Amano’s selection as the TMT hearing officer due to her family membership in the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center (“‘Imiloa”) operated by the University of Hawaii-Hilo, the Board stated: “A ‘family membership’ does not confer any right to participate in ‘Imiloa’s governance or decision making, in contrast to organizations where members may vote for a board of directors or other officers,” and the membership simply allows her and her family to “view exhibits and displays at a museum that focuses on astronomy, Mauna Kea, and Hawaiian culture.”

    In written disclosures to the Board last month, Judge Amano stated that she and her husband paid $85 per year since 2008 to maintain an ‘Imiloa family membership, which allows free admission to the astronomy center and discounts at the center restaurant and gift shop. Judge Amano further declared that her family membership expires on May 24, 2016 and will not be renewed.

    The Board stated, “No reasonable person would infer that the possibility of this ‘benefit’ (‘Imiloa family membership) would override the hearing officer’s duty to make an impartial recommendation to the Board.” The Hawai’i Revised Code of Judicial Conduct directly addresses the issue of how to treat Judge Amano’s membership if ‘Imiloa is assumed to be a party to the contested case. “The rule provides that a judge shall disqualify herself if the judge or her specific listed relative are a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director, general partner, managing member of trustee of a party. While this list is not exhaustive, what is significant to the BLNR is that all of these grounds involve some kind of fiduciary or managerial relationship between the judge (or the judge’s relative) and the party. Such relationships do not remotely resemble the ‘family membership’ at issue here,” said the Board in its decision.

    The Board carefully deliberated as to Judge Amano’s statement that she initially saw no connection between ‘Imiloa and the TMT application, and her statement that she did not know that ‘Imiloa was part of UH-Hilo. The Board accepted Judge Amano’s explanation and added, “The Board would certainly encourage hearing officers to disclose a broad range of known relationships…but it will not disqualify Judge Amano for not disclosing her ‘Imiloa family membership, which even in connection with facts she did not know, is not something that a reasonable person would consider likely to affect the impartiality of the arbitrator. The Board finds that under the applicable legal standards, a reasonable person knowing all the facts would not doubt the impartiality of Judge Amano.”

    The Board also found that the public notice soliciting attorneys to apply to serve as the TMT contested case hearing officer was properly published on January 29, 2016. Additionally the Board ruled that its decision to delegate the selection of the hearing officer to the Board Chairperson did not need to be made in an open meeting pursuant to chapter 92 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes (the “Sunshine Law”). Citing legal decisions, the Board found that the Sunshine Law did not apply to boards exercising adjudicatory functions, such as conducting a contested case hearing. Further, the Petitioners’ claim that they should have received prior notice of the selection process was not required because, “The Board’s decision to delegate authority to a hearing officer and the selection of a hearing officer are properly adjudicatory functions.”

    On December 2, 2015, the Hawaii Supreme Court remanded the TMT permit application to the circuit court to further remand to the Board for a contested case hearing. On February 22, 2016, circuit judge Greg K. Nakamura remanded the matter to the Board. Four days later on February 26, the Board met to restart the contested process. A public solicitation for a hearing officer occurred, a three member committee evaluated applications, and the hearing officer was announced on March 31. Three supplemental disclosures were filed by Judge Amano in April, followed by more opportunities for the Petitioners to respond. The Board gave all parties until May 2 to raise legal arguments for or against the selection process and selection of the hearing officer.

    Today’s sixteen-page decision denies the Petitioners’ objections and directs Judge Amano to begin the contested case process.

    [We can only hope that this is a win for the TMT collaboration and all of its members and memebr states. These events will be followed closely here.]

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    Near the center of Pasadena, California, a team of scientists, engineers, and project specialists is busily planning and designing what eventually will become the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth. When completed later this decade, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time.
    Partners
    The Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy
    California Institute of Technology
    Department of Science and Technology of India
    The National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC)
    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
    University of California

     
  • richardmitnick 12:50 pm on April 2, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , PUNE India possible site, TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope   

    From Times Of India: “Ladakh to get world’s largest telescope?” 

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    Times of India

    Mar 26, 2016
    Chethan Kumar

    TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope

    India may be home to the world’s largest telescope project – the $1.47-billion Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) International Observatory. Hanle in Ladakh has been short-listed as a prospective site by the TMT board following major hurdles in Mauna Kea, Hawaii – the first choice for the project. An international team is expected to visit Ladakh in a couple of months.

    The Hawaii Supreme Court had in December 2015 cancelled the permit issued to TMT for constructing the observatory following claims that the plot in Mauna Kea was sacred. While Hawaiian authorities are working towards re-issual of permit, the TMT Board is scouting for alternative sites to avoid delaying the project.

    India is already building edge sensors, actuators and system support support assemblies, besides contributing to the software of TMT. India is expected to invest $212 million in the project.

    After a meeting on this February 11, Henry Yang, chair of the TMT International Observatory Board, said in a statement: “…Given the enormous investment and potential challenges ahead, it is necessary to also carry out a review of alternate sites.”

    TMT India programme director B Eswar Reddy told TOI that the partners are looking at potentially sites in northern and southern hemispheres.

    Admitting that the Hawaiian problem means at least a two-year delay, Reddy said: “However, a lot of technical works (including in India) are progressing well in the partner countries. We expect all the systems to be ready and technical risks retired by the time we resolve the issue of site… In India too, industries are working on prototype development and some are qualified for production and some are still working on.”

    He said TMT is hoping to get back to civil construction within two years either on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

    Two major scientific institutions – the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Bengaluru and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune – along with two government departments having working on the project since 2013. The department of science and technology (DST) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) are the government partners, while IIA is the nodal agency.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:38 pm on October 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , The Telegraph, TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope   

    From The Telegraph via TMT: “How can some stars be older than the universe itself?” 

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    Thirty Meter Telescope
    Thirty Meter Telescope

    The Telegraph
    The Telegraph

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    M13: The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules Photo: MARTIN PUGH / NASA

    29 Sep 2015
    Adrian Berry

    2
    Stellar act: the heart of the M13 Globular Cluster Photo: NASA/ESA Hubble

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    This tremendous view of the central regions of the globular cluster M13 in the constellation of Hercules the eccentric hero shows what is probably the most spectacular single object in the sky.

    The science fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut, in his SF novel The Sirens of Titan, wittily put into words what he thought about such pictures and our reactions to them: “Every passing hour brings our solar system forty three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.”

    Like other weird phenomena of the cosmos, globular clusters seem to defy common sense. Each galaxy is surrounded by hundreds of them. They are typically composed of about 300,000 stars (the size of M13). Imagine how brilliant their night skies must be when I say that each cluster is crammed into a space of barely 150 light-years wide.


    download the mp4 video here.

    They may be as old as the universe itself which sounds absurd, since otherwise it wouldn’t be the universe. But some of the stars in the clusters are as old if not older than the universe’s oldest stars, a perplexing mystery.

    Another mystery surrounds the constellation of Lacerta the Lizard, a neighbour of Hercules in the north-western sky. Known as the Lizard thousands of years ago in ancient China (before being officially named so in 1687), the Chumash native people of California called this region of the sky by the same name for many millennia. How did the name spread so far? Perhaps it was a legend carried by migrants during age-long wanderings.

    The northern half of Lacerta crosses the Milky Way, making it an exciting region to look at, especially with binoculars. Deep inside this starry cloud is a mysterious object called BL Lacertae. This is a faint star which blazes forth massively at very regular intervals. This interval shows its distance, and since many galaxies contain similar objects, they help tell us the size of the universe.


    download the mp4 video here.

    Thousands of times closer is the mysterious planet of the star HAT-P-1, which is lighter than a giant ball of cork. Nearly half again the size of Jupiter, its mass is only half Jupiter’s. “It would float in a bath if you could find a bath big enough to hold it,” said Harvard scientist Gaspar Bakos.

    A very massive black hole has been found 8,500 light-years away in Lacerta, and here I must make a personal boast. In 1977 I wrote a book called The Iron Sun: Crossing the Universe through Black Holes arguing that spaceships could use black holes as tunnels to other parts of the universe, making possible interstellar travel.

    Few people agreed at the time, but in August the great Stephen Hawking calculated that astronauts making this terrifying journey could at least make it through to another universe. Not much practical use since the nearest known black hole is 1,600 light-years away, but still …

    Locally, Jupiter and Venus come within a degree of each other at 8 am on the 26th.

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    Venus, Jupiter and noctilucent clouds pictured over the Sec Reservoir in the Czech Republic on June 29 2015 Photo: PETR HORALEK / NASA

    The Night Sky in October 2015

    The chart below by Pete Lawrence (see the full-size chart [in the full article]) shows the sky at the start of October. The positions of the stars on other nights can be found from previous charts, for they rise two hours earlier each month. Thus, the appearance of the sky at 10 pm at the start of October (except for the Moon and planets) is identical to that a month ago. The Moon, full on the 27th and new on the 13th, is shown in its various phases. The hazy area represents the billions of stars of the Milky Way. Constellations are in white, and the brighter stars are ringed and yellow. The larger the ring, the brighter the star.

    4
    Telegraph Night Sky October 2015 Photo: PETE LAWRENCE

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    Near the center of Pasadena, California, a team of scientists, engineers, and project specialists is busily planning and designing what eventually will become the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth. When completed later this decade, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time.
    Partners
    The Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy
    California Institute of Technology
    Department of Science and Technology of India
    The National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC)
    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
    University of California

     
  • richardmitnick 8:28 am on September 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Hawaii Tribune Herald, TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope   

    From TMT via Hawaii Tribune Herald : “TMT still shooting for 2024 completion…” 

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    Hawaii Tribune Herald bloc
    Hawaii Tribune Herald

    September 21, 2015
    TOM CALLIS

    1
    This artist’s rendering shows how the Thirty Meter Telescope (lower left) might look on Mauna Kea. Courtesy of TMT.

    The TMT International Observatory is sticking with the same timeline for completing its giant telescope on Mauna Kea despite protests that have halted land clearing at its construction site for nearly six months and a legal challenge before the state Supreme Court, according to one of its board members.

    Michael Bolte, an astronomy professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told the Tribune-Herald on Friday that he still hopes to have the Thirty Meter Telescope ready to begin studying the stars in 2024. That’s assuming the court upholds its Conservation District land use permit and a resolution is found with the mostly Native Hawaiian protesters, who view construction on the mountain as desecration of sacred land.

    “That’s still our target and I think we can still meet that,” he said, cautiously.

    While grubbing and grading has been on hold since late March, when protesters first blocked workers from reaching the TMT site below the summit, Bolte said design and production of telescope parts and structures continues in each of the five partner countries, helping to keep other aspects of the $1.4 billion endeavor more or less on track.

    “Pretty much in all the partner countries activities are running full speed ahead,” he said.

    The project’s nonprofit corporation is based in Pasadena, Calif., but it is supported and funded by Canada, China, India and Japan, in addition to Caltech and the University of California. Each partner is currently playing a role in getting the project ready for when construction might be able to resume, Bolte said.

    He said a few segments that will make up the telescope’s massive 30-meter-wide primary mirror have been built. The parts will be mass produced in four countries.

    “I think it’s going to happen soon,” Bolte said, regarding mass production. “I don’t have the schedule.”

    Rather than one giant piece of glass, the mirror is made of 492 segments, similar to the Keck telescopes, though on a larger scale.

    Keck Observatory
    Keck Observatory Interior
    Keck

    He said the segments have to be extremely precise and the more difficult pieces are being manufactured first.

    The two Keck telescopes, also on Mauna Kea, have the world’s largest mirrors at 10 meters across each. TMT will have the largest next to an even bigger 39-meter telescope planned for completion in Chile about the same time.

    Bolte said the TMT’s primary mirror would be 12 times more powerful than the Hubble space telescope.

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

    It’s expected to capture images of the universe’s first galaxies and stars, and allow other objects to be seen more clearly.

    In Japan, he said prototypes of the telescope structure, which will hold the mirror, are being made, while the mirror’s sensors and actuators are being designed or built in India.

    China is working on secondary and tertiary mirrors, in addition to designing the sodium laser that will be used for the telescope’s adaptive optics system, he said.

    The laser allows the telescope to adjust for the atmosphere’s distortion by creating a fake star. That system is used on other Mauna Kea telescopes, though TMT would be the first to have it from the start.

    Canada, which is responsible for building the telescope’s dome, also is working on the adaptive optics system, Bolte said.

    In the United States, Caltech and the University of California are working on the instrumentation and the control systems that will run the telescope, he said.

    “Everybody has bits and pieces of almost everything,” Bolte said.

    He estimated hundreds of people are working on the TMT project around the globe. TMT estimates it will create about 130 permanent jobs on the Big Island.

    Bolte said a lot of the work is on five- to eight-year timelines, which is why it’s not being delayed.

    But are the delays on the mountain affecting the project in the long run?

    Bolte wasn’t ready to make that statement.

    “Eventually, that has to be the case,” he said, regarding grubbing and grading work resuming.

    “The delays are pretty small in the big project timeline. I don’t know when serious replanning would start. I hope we don’t get to that.”

    Bolte also said the board hasn’t updated the estimated cost of the project, which is $1.4 billion in 2012 dollars, despite construction delays and higher security costs.

    With its land use permit before the Supreme Court, there’s also the possibility of the project having to seek approval again from the state’s Board of Land and Natural Resources if the justices find the land board violated the due process of TMT opponents.

    If that happens, he said the TMT board would have to decide whether it wants to stick with Mauna Kea and restart the process in the face of stiffer opposition.

    “The answer is yes, probably,” Bolte said, when asked if it would still try to build the telescope on the mountain.

    “As a board, we will just have to consider that.”

    For now, he said there is no timeline for resuming construction.

    “We have been patient,” Bolte said. “These are real issues in Hawaii. The protesters had the question mark about the state process. We don’t want to be pushy.”

    Despite the challenges, he said he isn’t discouraged, adding the advance in science TMT represents helps keep him feeling positive.

    “I give a lot of talks about TMT,” Bolte said. “Every time I do that I get really excited.

    “Every time I review my slides I’m just amazed how powerful it’s going to be and how it’s going to solve all the things that are right at the edge of our knowledge right now.

    “I think we’re going to get through all these challenges on Mauna Kea, build this, and this is going to be one of the most productive scientific facilities of this century.”

    In addition to providing the best pictures of the early universe, the telescope is expected to be able to determine if life exists, or can exist, on planets in other solar systems by studying the light spectrum from the distant worlds.

    The TMT won’t be alone in cutting-edge astronomy. The 24.5-meter Giant Magellan Telescope [GMT] and the ESO 39-meter European Extremely Large Telescope are planned for completion in Chile about the same time, if not earlier.

    Giant Magellan Telescope
    GMT

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO E-ELT Interior
    ESO E-ELT

    Still, astronomers say TMT is needed since it will be the only one of its kind in the northern hemisphere, meaning it would see parts of the universe the telescopes in Chile can’t.

    “In astronomy research … the two (Chile and Hawaii) have played almost equally important roles,” Bolte said.

    “They are very complimentary.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Near the center of Pasadena, California, a team of scientists, engineers, and project specialists is busily planning and designing what eventually will become the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth. When completed later this decade, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time.
    Partners
    The Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy
    California Institute of Technology
    Department of Science and Technology of India
    The National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC)
    National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
    University of California

     
  • richardmitnick 2:43 pm on April 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope   

    From Dunlap: “With $243-million contribution, Canada signs on to mega-telescope in search of first stars and other Earths” 

    Dunlap Institute bloc
    Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics

    1

    Apr. 07 2015
    IVAN SEMENIUK, The Globe and Mail

    One of the biggest telescopes ever conceived to gaze upon the cosmos will be doing a substantial share of that gazing on behalf of Canadian astronomers.

    That’s the upshot of an announcement from Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday that officially committed Canada to membership in the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) — a massive astronomical observatory to be constructed on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

    TMT
    TMT Schematic
    TMT

    Mr. Harper said Canada would provide $243.5-million towards the telescope, corresponding to a 15 to 20 per cent share in the roughly $1.5-billion project.

    Much of the money will be spent within Canada, in part on the observatory’s 56-metre tall movable steel dome, which is slated to be built by Dynamic Structures Ltd. of Port Coquitlam, B.C., for about $150 million. The company already developed a design for the dome as part of Canada’s involvement in the preliminary phases of the project.

    Through the National Research Council, Canada will also provide the telescope’s adaptive optics — a sophisticated set of computer controlled deformable mirrors that will be used to cancel out the distorting effects of Earth’s atmosphere. Finally, the partnership will require Canada to pay for its share of the telescope’s operating costs in return for access to its enormous, far-seeing eye.

    “It’s amazing news for Canadian astronomy and for Canadian science in general,” said Ray Carlberg, a professor of astronomy at the University of Toronto and the project’s Canadian director. He compared the announcement to other key developments in the history of Canadian astronomy, like the founding of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in 1918, or the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope [CFHT] in 1979.

    Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
    Canada France Hawaii Telescope Interior
    CFHT

    As its name suggests, the heart of the TMT is a massive segmented mirror that is 30 metres across, giving it roughly ten the light-collecting surface of the most powerful telescopes operating today — enought to peer to the very edge of the visible universe and witness the birth of the first stars and galaxies.

    In terms of sheer telescope muscle, “the TMT will be a larger step forward than has occurred anytime in history,” said Michael Bolte a project board member and astronomer at the University of California Santa Cruz.

    Mr. Harper’s announcement came at a do-or-die moment for Canada’s involvement in the TMT. Construction of the telescope had already been delayed a year when it became clear that no funding would be forthcoming in the Canadian government’s 2014 budget. By then Canada had already put $30-million toward the design phase of the project.

    Astronomers in Canada have been anxiously waiting to see what the government would do this year. It was widely understood that if Canada balked, the project would move ahead without much further Canadian involvement.

    Over the past several months representatives of the astronomical community and other stakeholders have been meeting with federal officials to lobby for Canada’s participation in the project.

    “You don’t get promises out of a meeting like that, but I felt like we put our case forward well and people were listening to us,” said Christine Wilson, president of the Canadian Astronomical Society.

    The TMT project is led by a U.S. based consortium of the University of California and Caltech with a combined 25 per cent share. Other partners include Japan with 20 per cent and China and India with 10 per cent each.

    The Canadian contribution means the telescope has now secured more than 80 per cent of the capital it needs to move forward, which all but guarantees that it will be built, notwithstanding an assortment of technical and political challenges.

    It also strengthens the case that the TMT consortium is making to other potential partners that are still in the process of deciding whether to jump on board the project, Dr. Bolte said.

    The TMT is one of only two or three multinational mega-telescopes that are expected to be completed in the next decade or so and that will push the exploration of the universe into new realm. Its counterparts include the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope [ESO/E-ELT] and the 25.4-metre Giant Magellan Telescope [GMT], both in early stages of construction.

    ESO E-ELT
    ESO E-ELT Interior
    ESO/E-ELT

    Giant Magellan Telescope
    Giant Magellan Interior
    GMT

    Canadian astronomers have sought membership in one of these projects to avoid being left out of the next wave of cosmic discovery, which could include measuring the atmospheric composition of Earth-like planets orbiting around other stars.

    “If we could see that in my lifetime, I think that would be amazing,” said Dr. Wilson.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Dunlap Institute campus

    The Dunlap Institute is committed to sharing astronomical discovery with the public. Through lectures, the web, social and new media, an interactive planetarium, and major events like the Toronto Science Festival, we are helping to answer the public’s questions about the Universe.
    Our work is greatly enhanced through collaborations with the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, David Dunlap Observatory, Ontario Science Centre, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Toronto Public Library, and many other partners.

     
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