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Protest-hit Thirty Meter Telescope receives construction go-ahead in Hawaii

27 Jun 2019, 10:29 UTC
Protest-hit Thirty Meter Telescope receives construction go-ahead in Hawaii
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Construction of the long-delayed $1.4bn Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is set to soon begin after it was issued with a formal “notice to proceed” from the state of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources. The move marks a fresh chapter in the struggle between the international astronomical community and local Hawaiian activists, who claim that telescopes on the 4207 m-high site on Mauna Kea interfere with traditional cultural and religious practices. However, despite receiving the green light, protesters have indicated that they will continue to demonstrate against the project.
The TMT, whose primary mirror consists of 492 segments of glass pieced together, promises resolution more than 12 times sharper than images from the Hubble Space Telescope. The project originated in 2003 when Californian and Canadian universities merged three existing telescope projects to form the TMT Observatory Corporation. By 2009, an initial design had been accepted and Maunakea was selected as the site (see timeline below). In 2015, however, the Hawaii Supreme Court revoked the building permit following activists’ protests against construction.
In October 2018, the state Supreme Court issued a new permit for the construction of the TMT, in exchange for the closure of five of the 13 telescopes ...

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