HONOLULU, April 15 (UPI) -- Officials in Hawaii say construction of a giant telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, opposed by many Hawaiians who consider it sacred ground, can go ahead.
A permit for the planned Thirty Meter Telescope on the island of Hawaii means construction of the facility could start in April 2014 on the top of the 13,800-foot-high summit, Nature reported Monday.
Development on Mauna Kea, which already has 13 telescopes on the summit, is a sensitive subject in Hawaii and opponents had contested the original permit issued by Hawaii's Board of Land and Natural Resources.
The new decision has confirmed the original condition permit.
Mauna Kea, like other mountain summits in the state, is held in trust by the state for the public good. The observing site is leased by the University of Hawaii.
At almost 100 feet, the proposed telescope, dubbed TMT, would dwarf the rest of the telescopes currently on Mauna Kea; the biggest optical telescopes at the present are the twin 10-meter (32-foot) Keck telescopes.
TMT officials selected Mauna Kea in 2009 as the site of the telescope, which has a giant 492-segment mirror.
When completed, it could offers opportunities for discovery that astronomers haven't yet even dreamed of, said Ed Stone, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and vice-chair of the TMT board.