The consortium attempting to build the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), blocked by protesters in Hawaii, has now had its back-up location in the Canary Islands blocked by a Spanish judge, who last month invalidated the agreement between the consortium and local authorities.
[A]n administrative court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital of the Spanish archipelago, ruled last month that the 2017 concession by local authorities of public land for the tentative project was invalid. The ruling was dated on July 29, but only became public this week after local media reported about the decision.
In the ruling obtained by The Associated Press, Judge Roi López Encinas wrote that the telescope land allocation was subject to an agreement between the Canary Astrophysics Institute, or IAC, and the telescope’s promoter, the TMT International Observatory (TIO) consortium. But the judge ruled that the agreement was not valid because TIO had not expressed an intention to build on the La Palma site instead of at the Hawaii site.
In other words, it appears the agreement was ruled invalid because the TMT builders had not made a firm commitment about building at the Canary Islands.
At this moment it truly looks like TMT is dead. It has no alternative site, and its political support in Hawaii is nil. While the Democratic Party politicians that rule that state have mouthed support for it, almost all their actions since the protests began has been to help the protesters and stymie construction.
What I think will soon begin happening is that the partners in TMT will begin to back out, switching their support to the other large ground-based telescopes being planned, the Giant Magellan Telescope and the European-Extremely Large Telescope. Since these are both being built in Chile, the loss of TMT means that there will be no large ground-based telescope coverage of the northern sky.
The real solution? Stop building ground-based telescopes. Put them in space, where such political issues won’t exist, and the view will be unimpeded by either the atmosphere or the tens of thousands of new satellites expected to launch in the coming years.
Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Your support is even more essential to me because I keep this site free from advertisements and do not participate in corrupt social media companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook. I depend wholly on the direct support of my readers.
You can provide that support to Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:
If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
Cortaro, AZ 85652