Context: Protesters and authorities in Hawaii are facing off over plans to build a telescope on top of a mountain, Mauna Kea,that some native Hawaiians consider sacred.


  • The plans for the telescope include a 30m (98ft) wide mirror, making it three times as wide as the largest currently existing visible-light telescope in the world.
  • It is a new class of extremely large telescopes that will allow us to see deeper into space and observe cosmic objects with unprecedented sensitivity.
  • TMT images are more than 12 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope.
  • Observing in wavelengths ranging from the ultraviolet to the mid-infrared, this unique instrument will allow astronomers to address fundamental questions in astronomy ranging from understanding star and planet formation to unraveling the history of galaxies and the development of large-scale structure in the universe.
  • Using the TMT, astronomers hope to investigate the universe's "dark ages", when the first sources of light were created, as well as galaxies, black holes and planet formation.


About Mauna Kea

  • Mauna Kea, located on Hawaii's Big Island, is a dormant volcano. There are currently no legal limits to telescope construction on the site.
  • Opposition to construction there in general has existed for decades as many indigenous Hawaiians consider it the most sacred mountain.
  • But for scientists, cloud-free skies, low atmospheric water vapour and other conditions make it among the best sites in the world for astronomy.