Giant telescope could oversea the universe from Canary Island

THE Gran Telescopio Canarias, one of the world’s largest telescopes, is located at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos, on the La Palma Canary Island.
Rafael Rebolo, Director of the Canarian Research Centre Astrophysics Institute, says a giant telescope, costing 1,4bn dollars, is one step nearer to being built on the Canary Islands, should an international consortium give up plans to build it in Hawaii.
Rebolo told Associated Press that a building permit for the telescope had already been granted by La Palma town Puntagorda.
 “There are no more building permits needed according to Spanish legislation,” he said in an email.
The international consortium, backing the construction of the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT), wants to build it atop Hawaii’s tallest peak.
But some native Hawaiians consider the Mauna Kea summit sacred and their protests have stopped construction from going ahead since mid-July.
However, La Palma, which already hosts several powerful telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, was chosen in 2016 as a back-up site for the giant telescope.
Rebolo, who maintains regular contact with the consortium and Spain’s Science Ministry, is optimistic that Spain could end up welcoming the telescope.
“I think it is possible,” he said. “The Canary Islands offer a very good solution, so that the TMT can be built quickly, and be a successful project for cutting-edge science.”
After protesters mounted a blockade of Mauna Kea’s access road this summer, the consortium decided to go ahead and ask for a building permit in Spain, in case the Hawaiian site became untenable.
The Spanish observatory site had already passed environmental impact evaluations, and the Mauna Kea and La Palma summits are considered among the world’s best sites for deep-space observation, thanks to their prime weather and air conditions.
The large size of the planned telescope’s mirror means it would collect more light, allowing it to see faint, far-away objects such as stars and galaxies.
Astronomers are hoping to peer into the deepest reaches of the universe, and examine the period immediately following the Big Bang.

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Posted by on Nov 29 2019. Filed under Local News, News Alert. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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