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Hawaii Supreme Court takes up TMT, one of the world's largest telescopes




FILE - This Jan. 6, 2009, file photo shows astronomy observatories atop Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island where some Native Hawaiians have been peacefully protesting the construction of what would be one of the world’s largest telescopes. Astronomers have spent the last 40 years observing our universe and helping make some of the most significant discoveries in their field from this remote location. If the highly contested Thirty Meter Telescope is constructed on the site, scientists say they will be able to explore more of the universe’s unsolved mysteries. (AP Photo/Tim Wright, File)
FILE - This Jan. 6, 2009, file photo shows astronomy observatories atop Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island where some Native Hawaiians have been peacefully protesting the construction of what would be one of the world’s largest telescopes. Astronomers have spent the last 40 years observing our universe and helping make some of the most significant discoveries in their field from this remote location. If the highly contested Thirty Meter Telescope is constructed on the site, scientists say they will be able to explore more of the universe’s unsolved mysteries. (AP Photo/Tim Wright, File)
Tim Wright/AP

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Which need is more important: an indigenous culture’s access to a sacred site, or the ability of scientists to see right to the edge of the observable universe?

That’s the issue at the heart of the controversy on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano, where construction of a $1.4 billion telescope is underway.  

The issue was taken to the Hawaiian State Supreme Court on Thursday, where protestors are challenging the government’s right to permit development on land marked for conservation.
 
Known as the TMT, or Thirty Meter Telescope, it is one of the world’s most powerful telescopes, allowing researchers to gaze at galaxies 13 billion light years away.
 
But it’s become a lightning rod for many native Hawaiians, who believe the volcano is a sacred site, and that the government does not have the right to allow its construction.
 
The volcano already hosts 13 telescopes, reaching back to the 1960s, but the latest one has drawn the ire of activists, who have been protesting since the project broke ground.

https://twitter.com/solomonout/status/636962336331304961

After demonstrations at the site grew violent in April, the governor imposed emergency measures halting all construction.

Joining Take Two to discuss:

Note: An earlier version of this post's headline said the TMT would be the world's largest telescope. The headline has been updated for clarification.



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