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The board of directors of any existing telescope on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea evacuated by staff Tuesday, amid growing protests that have blocked an access road to the site of a second $1.4 billion of “Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) will be built on the mountain, reports said.
Management closed the East Asian Observatory, located on Mauna Kea, on Tuesday, as a security for the workers, effectively leaving millions of dollars worth of the instruments on the telescopes at the facility and that required ongoing maintenance, Hawaii News Now reported.
THE POLICE IN HAWAII REPORTED TO HAVE BEEN THE ARREST OF THE PROTESTERS IN STAND-OFF OVER THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE MAUNA KEA TELESCOPE
“It’s a risk for us to step away at this point,” Jessica Dempsey, deputy director of the asia pacific Observatory, told Hawaii News Now. “This is not a decision we came to lightly, but we want to stress the importance of the safety and security of our staff and the facilities.”
The police department, and the Hawaiian National Guard and self-described “native guards” were engaged in a tense confrontation has been in place since Monday for the scheduled start of construction. Some native Hawaiians consider Mauna Kea a sacred place. On Wednesday, 33 people were arrested during a sit-in at the Mauna Kea Access Road, a spokesman told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Those arrested were booked on misdemeanor charges and released immediately.
The protesters reportedly left the vehicle in the middle of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, in the run-up to the Thirty-Meter Telescope of the site. The police eventually pulled back from the resistance movement after an agreement was reached that demonstrators would have their vehicles off the road, to allow construction equipment to be transported up the mountain, the newspaper reported.
Mauna Kea, the highest mountain in Hawaii, at almost 14,000 feet was chosen as the site for the telescope in 2009, due to the altitude and lack of light pollution. The TMT size will allow them to see into deep space and produce images 12 times sharper than the Hubbell Space Telescope, the web site added.
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The telescope, when completed, will be subject to the 30-m prime mirror with a diameter which is three times as wide, it is nine times larger than the biggest currently-visible-light telescope in the world,” the website says. The TMT International Observatory, LLC, which describes itself as a “not-for-profit, international co-operation between educational and research institutions all over the world, and is the author of the project.
Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.