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‘Don’t give up’ on Hawaii site for telescope, report recommends

A group of Canadian astronomers has said that the advantages for the Thirty Metre Telescope of the first-choice Mauna Kea volcano site should not be relinquished prematurely.

A report published by the CASCA-ACURA TMT Advisory Committee last month said that giving up on the Mauna Kea site for the TMT could cost it its competitive edge over telescopes under construction in other parts of the world. Mauna Kea is the scientifically favoured site for the TMT, but protests from native Hawaians mean it might be built in the Spanish Canary Islands instead.

“The decision to move to Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos [on La Palma in the Canary Islands] should only be made once it is clear that construction on Mauna Kea will delay the project significantly relative to the Extremely Large Telescope,” the report stated. “As both the realistic timeline for ELT and the funding opportunities for TMT remain uncertain, we should proceed with caution,” it added.

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