MAUNA KEA, Hawaii – The problematic UH-Hilo Educational Telescope on Maunakea, named Hoku Keʻa, will be decommissioned in early 2016.
In a media release, the University of Hawaii says UH Hilo will follow the decommissioning process outlined in the Office of Mauna Kea Management’s Comprehensive Management Plan.
Defects plagued the 36-inch telescope since it was installed in 2010 and it never became operational. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reports the university wasted nearly $800,000 in National Science Foundation grants on the project, and that neither UH or the NSF has the means to seek reimbursement from the manufacturer.
The university is under pressure to decommission as as many telescopes as possible, with at least 25 percent of all telescopes gone by the time the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope is ready for operation. The TMT has been the subject of massive protests around the state and on Mauna Kea.
According to the university:
The process is expected to be completed in 2018 after the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory’s scheduled decommissioning. Once the area is restored to its natural state, no new observatory will be built on the Hoku Keʻa site.
The Caltech Observatory announced in May that it will also begin decommissioning in 2016. “As with the UH Hilo telescope,” the university says, “no new observatory will be built on the site.”