US$1.4 billion telescope project regains focus

By Mike Hayes04 October 2017

A stalled project to build the world’s most powerful telescope in Hawaii, has finally been given permission to proceed.

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Artist’s impression of the TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope)

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project broke ground in 2014, but protestors brought construction to a halt, citing concerns about both cultural and environmental impact of the building.

The location chosen for the TMT is high on the side of Mauna Kea, a remote island volcano in the Pacific Ocean.

At the end of 2015, the Hawaii Supreme Court withdrew permission for the TMT’s construction, saying proper consultation had not been undertaken.

While the new ruling from the state’s Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) does not preclude further action from opposition groups, the scientists behind the project are hoping construction can now resume.

If further problems manifest themselves, it is possible the group will decide to relocate the entire project to an already-selected secondary location on La Palma, in the Canary Islands.

If construction does go ahead this year, the telescope is expected to come online in the mid-2020s.

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