(BIVN) – State lawmakers recently got an update on the process of decommissioning telescopes on Mauna Kea in order to make way for the Thirty Meter Telescope on the mountain.
Taking existing astronomical observatories off Mauna Kea is a condition of the permit to build TMT, granted by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.
Robert McLaren, the Interim Director for the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy, gave an update before a joint meeting of the State Senate Committee on Water and Land, Committee on Higher Education, and Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs on January 24.
According to condition 10 of the conservation district use permit:
The University will decommission three telescopes permanently, as soon as reasonably possible, and no new observatories will be constructed on those sites. This commitment will be legally binding on the University and shall be included in any lease renewal or extension proposed by the University for Mauna Kea;
McLaren said those three observatories have been identified as the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, and two University of Hawaiʻi-managed telescopes: Hoku Keʻa and UKIRT.
Condition 11 of the CDUP goes further:
Notwithstanding any lease renewal or extension, consistent with the Decommissioning Plan, at least two additional facilities will be permanently decommissioned by December 31, 2033, including the Very Long Baseline Array antenna and at least one additional observatory.
McLaren said the additional telescope will likely be “one or other of the remaining submilimeter telescopes, but we are not in a position to identify specifically that one at this point.”