Thirty Meter Telescope can resume construction

In summary, the Thirty Meter Telescope project has been given the green light to resume construction on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. This decision comes after a lengthy legal battle and protests from native Hawaiians and environmentalists who oppose the telescope's construction on sacred land. The telescope, which will be one of the largest and most advanced in the world, has faced numerous delays and setbacks, but is now expected to be completed by the late 2020s. Despite ongoing controversy, supporters of the project believe that the telescope will bring important scientific advancements and economic benefits to the community.
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TL;DR Summary
Second-largest optical telescope project can resume construction after years of lawsuits.
Larger telescopes collect more light and, thanks to modern adaptive optics, achieve a better resolution. After several telescopes with ~10 m diameter three projects aim at much larger telescopes:
  • Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), Chile, 24.5 m diameter, 368 m2 area
  • Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), Hawaii, 30 m (surprise!), 655 m2
  • Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), Chile, 39 m, 978 m2
GMT and ELT have been under construction for a while. TMT started construction, but then some Hawaiians filed lawsuits for cultural and religious reasons. After four years in various courts the project now got the permission to continue. Original announcement, https://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/thirty-meter-telescope-beginning-construction/. Assuming no further delay it can now see first light as early as 2027, two years after GMT and ELT: timeline. As the only extremely large telescope on the Northern Hemisphere there are objects only TMT will be able to study.

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Personal opinion: These lawsuits are silly. They can't be about seeing the mountain without telescopes - it is way too late for that, several telescopes are highly visible on the top. ELT will be larger but due to its location it will be less visible than existing telescopes. They can't be about preserving the mountain in its original condition - it is too late for that, too.
Summits of tall mountains are sacred places in Hawaiian mythology but they don't have any special protection in Hawaii - there are roads to the summits and everyone can go there (not sure about Mauna Loa, but that is an active volcano...). Mauna Kea has excellent viewing conditions and the infrastructure to support such a telescope; it is the best place for TMT in the Northern Hemisphere. Learning more about the universe is a goal of every civilization - maybe the only goal every civilization can agree on. It brings together people from all over the world peacefully. Polynesians in particular have a long history of using stars to navigate oceans. Isn't a telescope to learn more about stars a great use of these summits?
TMT has strong support in the local population: 77% support/15% opposition in the general population, 72% support (no opposition number given) among native Hawaiians.
In the absence of majorities or real arguments the opponents started to invent arguments. This article discusses a long list of claims - everything from misleading to direct lies.
 
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Astronomy news on Phys.org
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mfb said:
... it is the best place for TMT in the Northern Hemisphere ...
Don't you think Gobi couldn't also be a good place, or the former Aral lake?
 
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Gobi is dry but doesn't have the height of Mauna Kea (4100 m) - you are above ~40% of the atmosphere. It also doesn't have infrastructure in place, you would have to build everything from scratch. In addition you would have to find people happy to go there to build and then maintain the telescope.
As TMT is mainly funded by the US and Japan the Chinese part of the desert would be difficult for political reasons, not sure about the Mongolian part.

I don't know which advantages the area of the Aral Sea would have. It is at sea level and doesn't have the infrastructure for telescopes.
 
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Related to Thirty Meter Telescope can resume construction

1. What is the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)?

The Thirty Meter Telescope is a proposed astronomical observatory that will have a primary mirror with a diameter of 30 meters, making it one of the largest ground-based telescopes in the world. It is designed to observe the universe in infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light, and will be located on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

2. Why was construction of the TMT halted?

Construction of the TMT was halted due to protests from Native Hawaiian groups who consider the summit of Mauna Kea to be a sacred site. They believe that the construction of the telescope would further desecrate the land and interfere with their cultural practices.

3. What led to the decision to resume construction of the TMT?

The decision to resume construction of the TMT was made after a series of negotiations between the state of Hawaii, the University of Hawaii, and the Native Hawaiian groups. A new permit was issued with stricter conditions to ensure that the construction of the telescope would not have a negative impact on the environment and cultural practices of the Native Hawaiians.

4. When will construction of the TMT resume?

Construction of the TMT is expected to resume in late 2021 or early 2022. This timeline is subject to change depending on any further legal challenges or delays.

5. What are the potential benefits of the TMT?

The TMT is expected to significantly advance our understanding of the universe by allowing astronomers to observe celestial objects with unprecedented clarity and detail. It will also create jobs and boost the economy in Hawaii, and provide educational and training opportunities for local communities.

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