The Advanced Technology Solar Telescope will be built on top of Haleakala on Maui, Hawaii, the National Science Foundation announced last week. The 143 foot tall, 13 foor diameter telescope will be the largest optical solar telescope in the world when completed. The site, the University of Hawaii’s Science City, an 18-acre grouping of observatories close to Haleakala’s summit, lies within Haleakala National Park; the construction of another observatory in addition to the existing installations, has been opposed by environmentalists, and still needs to pass a vote by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources before it can begin.
The Advanced Technology Solar Telescope project, first proposed in 2000, has already been the subject of extensive reviews by environmental, archaeological, historical and endangered species experts, as well as an environmental impact assessment, and will take seven more years to complete. It should also boost the local economy by adding at least 35 full time jobs on top of an estimated $80 million in local construction work. To read more about the environmental impact statement: http://www.atst.nso.edu/nsf-env
The plan by the National Science Foundation of building the project in the national park angered Hawaiian activists, Friends of Haleakala National Park, and nature lovers from the time it was announced in 2000. To read more from groups opposed to the project: www.kilakilahalea kala.org
Photo of Science City by javanod, Creative Commons Attribution License