US environmental study launched for Thirty Meter Telescope

Jul 19, 2022, 2:39 AM | Updated: Jul 21, 2022, 5:46 am
FILE - Telescopes are seen on the summit of Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island, on Aug. 31, 2015. The...

FILE - Telescopes are seen on the summit of Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island, on Aug. 31, 2015. The National Science Foundation said Tuesday, July 19, 2022, that it plans to conduct a study to evaluate the environmental effects of building the Thirty Meter Telescope, one of the world's largest optical telescopes, on sites selected on Mauna Kea in Hawaii and Spain's Canary Islands. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)

(AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)

HONOLULU (AP) — The National Science Foundation said Tuesday it plans to conduct a study to evaluate the environmental effects of building one of the world’s largest optical telescopes on sites selected in Hawaii and Spain’s Canary Islands.

The agency published a notice in the Federal Register of its intentions to prepare an environmental impact statement for the $2.65 billion Thirty Meter Telescope.

The telescope’s supporters have pursued plans to build it on their preferred site on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s tallest mountain and one of the world’s best locations for viewing the night sky, for over a decade. But there is strong opposition from Native Hawaiians who consider the mountain’s summit sacred.

The National Science Foundation plans to host four meetings on the Big Island of Hawaii in August. It said it won’t decide on whether to fund the telescope until after it considers public input, the environmental review, the project’s technical readiness and other factors.

Protesters blocked construction crews in 2015 and 2019, saying building a new telescope there would further defile a site that they say has already been harmed by a dozen other observatories.

The TMT International Observatory, the international consortium of scientists behind the project, has selected the Spanish island of La Palma off Africa’s western coast as an alternate if it cannot build in Hawaii.

The group completed an environmental study in 2010 that was mandated by Hawaii law for construction on Mauna Kea.

The National Science Foundation must conduct a new study under U.S. law to invest in the project because it is part of the federal government.

A report from the U.S. astronomy community last year said TMT planned to obtain 30% of the project’s estimated construction costs, or $800 million, from the U.S. government.

TMT is a partnership between the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and government-backed research institutions in Canada, China, India and Japan.

Robert P. Kirshner, TMT’s executive director, said in an emailed statement that federal funding will provide the entire U.S. astronomy community with access to the observatory.

“This ensures that the TMT tests the best ideas and does the most important observations to contribute to understanding where we are in the universe and how it works,” he said.

Telescope opponents criticized the new study, saying it will force them take time away from their lives again to give their views about the project, said Kealoha Pisciotta.

“Why don’t people accept our ‘no’ for the answer?” said Pisciotta, who is a spokesperson for the groups Mauna Kea Hui and Mauna Kea Aina Hou that oppose the project.

In October, the U.S. astronomy community said in a report that the National Science Foundation should invest in at least one or two of a new class of observatories called Extremely Large Telescopes being planned by U.S. institutions.

TMT would cover the skies from the Northern Hemisphere. The Giant Magellan Telescope project, to be built in Chile, would observe the universe from the Southern Hemisphere.

U.S. astronomers included this recommendation in their once-in-a-decade analysis of their priorities and goals called the Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s.

The report said the success of at least one of these two projects — TMT or Magellan — was a critical priority due to their “transformative scientific potential.” It concluded that having at least one was “absolutely essential” for the U.S. to remain a leader in ground-based astronomy.

When the U.S. government invests in a telescope, U.S.-based astronomers get a share of the viewing time regardless of where in the world it is built.

The European Southern Observatory, which is run by 16 European nations and partners with Chile and Australia, has already started building its own Extremely Large Telescope in Chile. It’s expected to start observations in 2027.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - A woman wheels a cart with her purchases out of a Walmart, on Nov. 18, 2020, in Derry, N.H. ...
Associated Press

Walmart tops Q2 expectations as Americans continue spending

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart reported better-than-expected second quarter results as more Americans looked to cut costs on groceries at the nation’s largest retailer in the face of surging inflation. Those rising prices, however, meant that customers where cutting back on non-necessary purchases. Walmart Inc. earned $5.15 billion, or $1.88 per share, or $1.77 excluding […]
1 day ago
This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows the Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship Razoni, center ...
Associated Press

Satellite images show first ship out of Ukraine in Syria

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The first shipment of grain to leave Ukraine under a wartime deal appears to have ended up in Syria — even as Damascus remains a close ally of Moscow, satellite images analyzed Tuesday by The Associated Press show. The arrival of the cargo ship Razoni in Syria comes after […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Millennial Money: A scarcity money mindset can cost you

We all saw it at grocery stores in 2020. The shelves, once brimming with toilet paper and hand soap, were bare. We hid in our homes, deep-cleaning every surface, occasionally braving the threat of COVID-19 to hunt down the last remaining bottle of hand sanitizer in a 50-mile radius. We felt out of control, so […]
1 day ago
Indonesian President Joko Widodo gestures as he delivers his annual State of the Nation Address ahe...
Associated Press

Indonesian leader calls for unity, braces for global crises

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s president called on all citizens to remain united, vigilant and alert as they face crises fueled by the war in Ukraine and coronavirus pandemic in his State of the Nation address Tuesday. After two years of remote meetings amid pandemic restrictions, more than half of Indonesia’s Parliament was in attendance […]
1 day ago
Mine workers sing as they wait for the start of commemoration ceremonies near Marikana in Rustenbur...
Associated Press

South African miners mark 10th anniversary of killings

MARIKANA, South Africa (AP) — A somber gathering of about 5,000 people marked the 10th anniversary of what has become known as the Marikana massacre, when police opened fire on striking miners, killing 34 in 2012. “10 Years of Betrayal,” said T-shirts worn by many at the commemoration, expressing bitterness that those killed have not […]
1 day ago
FILE - A Home Depot logo sign hands on its facade, Friday, May 14, 2021, in North Miami, Fla. Home ...
Associated Press

Home Depot posts record profit, revenue; sticks to outlook

Home Depot is seeing sustained demand for goods related to home improvement projects despite soaring prices and mortgage rates for homes. Despite record profit and revenue, the Atlanta home improvement chain maintained its guidance for the year. Revenue for the three months ended July 31 rose 6.5% to $43.79 billion, which topped projections of $43.35 […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
US environmental study launched for Thirty Meter Telescope