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Thirty Meter Telescope Construction Halted Amidst Protests

posted: 04/10/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Telescope on Mauna Kea
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A telescope atop Hawaii's Mauna Kea.
Yana_N/Thinkstock

Construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Hawaii's Mauna Kea is on hold this weekend after Hawaii Gov. David Ige announced a weeklong moratorium on all construction activity. The telescope, which is being built on land sacred to Native Hawaiians, has spawned heavy political conflict since its inception.

"We agreed there would be value to have some further dialogue on Mauna Kea," Ige said in a news conference on Tuesday. "This will give us some time to engage in further conversations with the various stakeholders that have an interest in Mauna Kea."

Mauna Kea, the highest point in the state of Hawaii, is an important resource to both astronomers and Native Hawaiians. According to Native Hawaiian beliefs, the mountain is the sacred home of several deities; as such, it should only be used for religious ceremonies.

Since the 1960's, however, the University of Hawaii has managed the land an astronomical reserve. The university has already built 13 telescopes, all of which pale in comparison to the proposed 18-story Thirty Meter Telescope.

Funded by China, Japan, Canada and India, the telescope will be the highest and second largest Extremely Large Telescope on the planet.

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