The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), a semi-autonomous department of the state of Hawaii, rescinds its support for a Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea which is a point of dispute between astronomical society and Hawaiian natives who consider the mountain sacred.
“We are naturally disappointed that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has changed its position on the Thirty Meter Telescope project. However, we are by no means discouraged,” said Dr. Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT International Observatory Board.
The construction of the world’s large telescope turned into an endless story since the start of April. Arrest of 31 protesters on April 2 who were blocking the road to the construction site leaded Hawaii Governor David Ige to issue a moratorium. The nonprofit organization, TMT Observatory Corporation, voluntarily extended the halt of the construction.
Native Hawaiians of the Big Island believe that their story of creation had started atop the Mauna Kea, which is also a home for some deities and a burial site.
However, astronomically Mauna Kea, already a home for 13 telescopes, is one of the best places for observation on the face of the earth. If completed TMT will provide the sharpest and deepest images of the space with its 30 meter diameter mirror, besting 8 times of today’s best telescopes.
TMT will cost about $1.5 billion and backed by the governments of India, China, Japan and Canada.