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Tuesday, July 2, 2024
Second observatory removed from Maunakea summit
By News Release @ 10:10 PM :: 723 Views :: Hawaii County , Greenmail, Higher Education, OHA

Second observatory removed from Maunakea summit

UH News, July 2, 2024

Two observatories have now been completely removed from the summit of Maunakea, fulfilling a commitment made by the University of Hawaiʻi. All site work for the decommissioning of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) was completed in June 2024 following the removal and site restoration of the UH Hilo Hōkū Keʻa Observatory in May 2024.

See a timelapse of the removal

“The completion of the two decommissioning projects demonstrates our commitment to responsible stewardship of Maunakea,” said UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie D. Irwin “We remain devoted to our role as stewards of the Mauna, respecting its profound cultural and environmental significance.”

The UH Hilo Center for Maunakea Stewardship (CMS) oversaw both decommissioning projects. Both sites will be monitored over the next three years to assess species population and diversity.

The C S O dome

The CSO site before the removal (photo credit: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)

C S O site

The CSO dome site after the removal (photo credit: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan)

“This is a significant mile (tomb) stone in the history of astronomy on Maunakea and shows that we have come a long way in our stewardship of the Mauna,” said Greg Chun, Executive Director of the UH Hilo Center for Maunakea Stewardship. “This project required close, daily coordination between CSO, the contractors, and CMS. I want to commend the team for their commitment to problem solving and completing this project in a way that was pono.”

The deconstruction phase of CSO began in August 2022 and included the removal and transport of the telescope, physical deconstruction of the building housing the telescope and site restoration. As with the Hōkū Keʻa Observatory, the project was completed in accordance with the decommissioning process required by the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan.

“The physical decommissioning was undertaken with great care by our prime deconstruction contractor, with constant oversight by local cultural, archeological, environmental, and construction monitors as well as the CMS,” said Caltech physics professor and CSO Director Sunil Golwala.

The Hawaiʻi State Legislature established the Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority (MKSOA) in 2022. After a five-year transition period MKSOA will assume oversight and management of Maunakea in 2028, and as part of our shared management responsibilities during this transition period, the MKSOA has been briefed by CMS regarding the decommissioning project.

More information on the CSO decommissioning can be found in the CSO July 1 news release announcing the completion of the project.

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HPR: Caltech observatory is 1st to be completely removed from Maunakea

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