Mauna Kea’s Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) benefits Hawaii

FILE - This undated file artist rendering made available by the TMT Observatory Corporation shows the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope, planned to be built atop Mauna Kea, a large dormand volcano in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii in Hawaii. Gov.  About 20 people opposed to building what would be one of the world's largest telescopes on a Hawaii mountain are camped out near the construction site, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, vowing to stop work from resuming.  (AP Photo/TMT Observatory Corporation, File) NO SALES

The summit of Mauna Kea is the Earth’s clearest window to the rest of the Universe. Mauna Kea when measured from sea level is the highest point in the Pacific Ocean. From the base at the bottom of the sea, Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on Planet Earth. The peaks of Mauna Kea make for the perfect location for astronomical discoveries, high above any light pollution and most clouds, it’s a crystal-clear window into the cosmos. The summit is a host to thirteen working telescopes from eleven different countries that have accounted for major discoveries among our galaxy. This makes it the world’s largest astronomical observatory. The newest telescope is just breaking ground on the mountains Plato. The project will have not only a positive impact on Hawaii’s economy; it will contribute to the largest feet in science that will advance mankind’s ability to evolve.

In light of the already existing telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea, scientists and astronomers have plans to construct a new megascope that will allow for larger scale discoveries in our solar system. My very own university, University of Hawaii is responsible for stewardship of TMT’s plans on Mauna Kea. The megascope called, the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT), also plans to take advantage of the crystal-clear view that is offered at the top of the summit. The megascope will take the clearest photos of the galaxy from earth. TMT is a non-profit organization that partnered with world-class universities, including the University of California, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and governmental research institutions representing the partner countries of Canada, China, India and Japan. The Mauna Kea TMT project will considerably require massive amounts of power, but will the current technological advancements they will make the first zero waste facility on Mauna Kea and with seven years of environmental assessment undertaken on the environment, they have chosen the best possible site with minimum environmental disturbance.

This is a remarkable collaboration of international relations and Hawaii is very lucky to be at the epicentre of this incredible technology. Ironically, the TMT project has been under the microscope, making headline news on several media channels because of the Hawaiian Sovereignty protest groups that oppose the construction of TMT. TMT’s Community Affairs representative, Sandra Dawson, said she was shocked by the protests. “We chose a site that has no archaeological shrines, has not been the site of cultural practices, and isn’t visible from distance of holy sites,” Dawson said. Despite all this TMT already has a legal permit from the government to construct the facility as the survey to construct it was started almost seven years ago. This has caused a delay in the construction of TMT and costing the state thousands of dollars a day. TMT will only bring good things to Hawaii and its people.

One of the biggest concerns of the TMT telescope is the environmental impact it will have on the Hawaiian land. This was also at the top of the list of the non-profit organization while drawing up the plan. This large scale project will be the most environmentally sensitive telescope ever built on MaunaKea. Located in a position that will be visible only by 14% of the island. The location will have no adverse impact on the water resources and hydrology of Mauna Kea. The organization performed a series of excavations making sure that TMT’s location will not pose a threat to any indigenous species, plants or disrupt any Hawaiian archaeological shrines or burial sites. TMT plans to educate all of their employees on the status, condition and protection given to the natural resources on the summit. In fact TMT’s project ensures most of its energy and waste are all-reusable. The site will include top of the line solar hot water systems, massive solar panels (all of which accounted for within their space), energy-saving technology devices and will conduct an annual audit designed to further reduce energy use.

The organization assures that there will be no waste left on the mountain and plan to recycle and reuse solid and non-hazardous water materials as much as possible. The facility will construct only a single lane road to reduce destroying the natural setting of the area. There will also be a ride-sharing program that will be aimed and reducing the number of traffic in the area. The facility will also have an aluminium like reflective coating that will reflect the sky, making it hard to spot therefore reducing its visibility. The size of the dome will also be engineered to make it smaller than the usual. Machines, lighting systems and vehicles used by the facility will all be energy efficient and have low impact to the natural environment.

Hawaii cultures have long integrated science and spirituality in them. The site was selected while protecting a lot of the environmental concerns TMT also paves the path for relief in Hawaii’s economy. To respect their culture all the TMT employers and contractors will have an annual Culture and Natural Resources Training Program. On-site will be cultural and archaeological experts who will monitor constructions and will have the authority to stop it is they stumble into any cultural finds. The construction of the facility will contribute to thousands of new paying jobs, university funded programs and grants that will have a direct impact on my education at the University of Hawaii.

In 2014, TMT launched The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund to better prepare Hawaii’s students to master STEM and to become the workforce for higher paying science and technology jobs in Hawaii’s 21st century economy. This THINK fund will contribute hundreds of scholarships, educational programs and college awards for local students like myself. This fund is set out to contribute to $1 million a year to better Hawaii’s educational goals. TMT will be dedicating another $1 million a year into bettering the workforce of the students from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hawaiʻi Community College, University of Hawaii at Manoa and the Department of Education. This will put a special emphasis on the programs aimed at students and local residences of Hawaii in science, engineering and technical to find work in a highly competitive department. TMT will also support financially and staff wise towards educating students in Hawaiian schools and visitors about science and the genealogy of Hawaiian culture.

It is an honor that Hawaii is able to play an important role in the advancement of our civilization. It is only fate that the summit of Mauna Kea makes for the perfect window into our heavens. Hawaii as a state and native land will go down in history one day because of the success of the telescope. The TMT organization has taken the appropriate measures in assuring only positive effects from its construction. Local residences and native Hawaiian’s of Hawaii should be proud that we are the epicentre of exploration of the rest of the world.

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2 Comments to “Mauna Kea’s Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) benefits Hawaii”

  1. I agree that the TMT would benefit Hawaii and the rest of the world. However, although the TMT is specifically located in a spot that has the least impact on Mauna Kea, the fact of the matter is that it is still affecting the land, no matter how big or small. The telescope will be 18 stories tall, digging 20 ft. into the ground. The other 13 telescopes are also not all working, and there has been agreements to deconstruct the non-functioning telescopes. The land was also illegally leased for $1/year by UH Manoa’s 65 year contract. What does that have to say about the object UH Manoa has in this?

    The Hawaiian beliefs and practices matter. Yes, science is important for advances, but it does not call for stepping on peoples human rights. What enrages me the most, is the lack of native Hawaiian consent officials had on the TMT. They should have been the first ones consented about their thoughts, for this land is purely sacred to them. Maybe the lack of discussion and involvement increased tensions between TMT officials and Kanaka. Native Hawaiians have been oppressed time after time: illegal annexation, ceded native Hawaiian crown lands and titling it the “public lands,” etc… It’s about time they unite and stand up for their land.

    So since technology is advancing so rapidly, creating a smaller and stronger telescope somewhere else shouldn’t be that difficult. Really it’s science vs. human rights. What’s more important? Would Japan let people build the TMT on Mt. Fuji? No, because that’s their landmark, that land is sacred to them. Would you build the TMT over a grave yard? No, because that’s disrespectful. Mauna Kea is sacred, Mauna Kea is the piko (navel) and birth place of Hawaiian’s Ali’i (god). What’s so hard to understand that the TMT on Mauna Kea will desecrate a very sacred place? Kanaka should have stopped the construction of the ridiculous amount of telescopes on Mauna Kea long ago, but it’s better late than never.

  2. megankono808 states that Mauna Kea is birthplace of Hawaiian’s Ali’i. This is news to me. In north Kohala, the site of Kamehameha the Great’s birth is marked with a large rock. On Oahu, Kukaniloko is the renowned birthplace of the Ali’i.

    What better way to honor and celebrate ancient Hawaiians than to build the TMT on sacred Mauna Kea? Our aumakua studied and revered the stars; as early astronomers they explored the Pacific by using the stars. Of course, they would enthusiastically support building this telescope to further their knowledge of the universe!

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