MAUNA KEA – Reports of a “bullet hole” found in the door of the Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea have been dispelled. The observatory has “confirmed a match between this hole and an intake manifold cover on the wall”, which indicates no guns or bullets were involved in creating the hole.
Photos and police reports of the “bullet hole” created a stir in the media on Sunday, illustrating the tense situation that currently exists on the mountain. With construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope delayed due to a blockade by protectors opposed to the $1.4 billion project, the entire state has been at odds over how to move forward. TMT supporters who disagree with the blockade questioned if there could be a connection between the damage and the protectors. The protectors refuted the suggestion that they could have damaged the observatory, saying it was “inconsistent with the Kū Kiaʻi Mauna movement and the kapu of aloha that has been placed on Mauna a Wākea for the past 74 days.”
The Mauna Kea Hui – another group working to stop the TMT project – responded to the report today, saying it “strongly objects to any use of a firearm or weapon, regardless of intent, above those lower areas where hunting may be permitted. To do so is absolutely unacceptable! The Mauna Kea summit is a Sacred Temple of Akua and such behavior is a serious desecration of our spiritual practice and belief.”
However, Subaru Telescope officials figured out it was not a bullet hole. “In the evening of Saturday, June 6, 2015,” wrote Director Nobuo Arimoto, “a round hole was discovered on one of the side doors of the Subaru Telescope’s building on Maunakea. The detailed inspection on June 7 at the start of the night shift and 8 in the morning found and confirmed a match between this hole and an intake manifold cover on the wall. This intake is to hook up hose from LN2 tanker for mirror coating work. The day crews knew the presence of the hole for some time, but they do not have any idea when and how exactly this had happened.”
“The wrap around effect of the wind could be very severe at times,” Arimoto added, “which can swing the heavy metal door to create this kind of dent on it. The director reminded staff to be extra careful about this kind of wind effect when working outside of the enclosure.”
Subaru says their day crews knew of the presence of the hole at the time of the severe winter storm earlier this year.
UPDATE – More from Subaru: “We at Subaru Telescope are relieved that this is the case and regret the confusion caused by earlier reports. The police have also been notified of the discovery.”
Photos showing the hole in relation to the intake manifold cover offer a good illustration of how the damage could have happened.