On December 1, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) approved the Management Plan for the University of Hawaii's Haleakala High Altitude Observatory Site and a Conservation District Use Permit (CDUP) for the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST). The plan will serve as the guiding document for the UH Institute for Astronomy's management of the 18-acre astronomy precinct on Haleakala. The CDUP defines the terms and conditions for the construction and operation of the ATST there.
The $298 million ATST will be funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and operated by the National Solar Observatory (NSO) through the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. Construction will begin in 2011, and when it becomes operational in 2017, ATST will be the world's largest solar telescope and will enable solar scientists throughout the world to study solar activity in exquisite detail. These studies will provide important clues to the origin and development of solar storms that can affect on life on Earth.
IfA Director Dr. Rolf-Peter Kudritzki stated, “December 1 was an important day with a very important decision. This is a milestone for future astronomy in Hawaii, and also for education in Hawaii due to the unprecedented commitment by the NSF to make available $20 million over ten years for an education program at UH Maui College that will cultivate and reinforce the intersection of Hawaiian culture and knowledge with science, technology, engineering, and math."
Dr. Kudritzki expresses his sincere appreciation to all groups and individuals who took the time to participate in the more than 50 formal and informal meetings and consultations associated with the plan, the CDUP, and their accompanying environmental documents. He hopes that those who have participated in the NSF's ATST Native Hawaiian Working Group meetings will continue to do so. The ATST Native Hawaiian Working Group will continue to consult with the NSF, NSO, and IfA on important cultural matters related to the construction and operation of the ATST.
Dr. Kudritzki also thanks outgoing BLNR Chair Laura Thielen, the members of BLNR, and the staff of the Department of Land and Natural Resources' Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands for their diligent and comprehensive review of the more than 1,800 pages associated with the Conservation District Use Application.
For more information about and pictures of ATST: http://atst.nso.edu/
Founded in 1967, the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa conducts
research into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the
sun. Its faculty and staff are also involved in astronomy education,
deep space missions, and in the development and management
of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea.
Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association
of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawaii is the state's
sole public system of higher education. The UH System provides
an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees
and community programs on 10 campuses and through educational,
training, and research centers across the state. UH enrolls
more than 50,000 students from Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, and
around the world.