Thirty Meter Telescope To Be Built In Canary Islands Instead Of Hawaii

Posted: Nov 2 2016, 6:14am CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Thirty Meter Telescope to be Built in Canary Islands Instead of Hawaii
Computer rendering of the Thirty Meter Telescope. Credit:
  • Biggest Telescope to be Built in Canary Islands Instead of Hawaii

Apparently, the largest of telescopes may change its venue from Hawaii to Spain.

Termed the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), this giant astronomical instrument was supposed to be built in Hawaii. However, now there has been a change of plans.

Various native groups opposed the building of the telescope on the grounds that the land where it was supposed to stand was sacred to the people of Hawaii. Now, the Canary Islands in Spain may be the next target after facing the failure in Hawaii.

It is a $1.4 billion project. The expert astronomers will study the early universe and look at exoplanets through the lens of this telescope once it is constructed.

This telescope is a part and parcel of other huge telescopes. One of these is the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Another one is the James Webb Telescope which is located in space.

This last one will serve the field of astronomy well into the 2020s. Mauna Kea in Hawaii would have been an ideal spot since the weather conditions are so perfect there.

Wide open blue skies, low amounts of water vapor and several other factors make it the optimal site. Yet it was not to be due to the fact that the construction was going to challege the cultural law-lines of the indigenous people of Hawaii.

Opposition to the construction of this telescope had existed since a generation or so. To many Hawaiians, Mauna Kea is a very sacred mountain that has a link with their religious deities.

Therefore, the construction of this telescope was a form of sacrilege in the eyes of many Hawaiians. Also there were other groups of people who cited environmental or conservation reasons for not building the telescope.

As the construction was to start in April of last year, many Hawaiian activists blocked the roads and many of them were even arrested in the process. Yet the case was also pending in court.

In December 2015, the court ordered the construction of the telescope to be stopped seeing the fact that it was offending many native people.

Finally, the search for alternative sites has begun. Most probably the Canary Islands in Spain will be selected as the next best site to build the big telescope.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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