CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope

By / par Michael Balogh (CATAC Chair)
(Cassiopeia – Spring / printemps 2021)

In our last article we provided some detail and references on the state of the TMT project, the informal NSF outreach process, US ELTP activity, and other relevant processes and discussions happening on Hawaii around land use and the issue of consent. These activities continue. As detailed in that report, the next major milestone will be the release of the US Astro2020 recommendations, in mid-2021. A top ranking in this report is essential for NSF engagement (expected to be at the level of at least 25%) and the viability of the project. Should the NSF accept the ELTP proposal, NSF will conduct an in-depth Preliminary Design Review, likely in late 2021. Acceptance will also trigger a federal Environmental Impact Statement that will take about three years to complete. In the meantime we have only a few updates:

  • Following the retirement of Gary Sanders, Fengchuan Liu has been appointed Acting Project Manager. Fengchuan has been the Deputy Project Manager at TMT since 2015; prior to that he was a Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL). He brings a lot of experience and talent to this role and is already having a positive impact.
  • At the end of 2020, the independent evaluation of the Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) was released. You can access the full report here. The report was prepared for the Department of Land and Natural Resources by Ku`iwalu and includes both a self-assessment by the Office of Maunakea Management (OMKM) and a public assessment based on input to the review process. This evaluation found that the OMKM has made significant progress in several areas, and in particular is, in many regards, “effectively managing the activities and uses on Mauna Kea to better protect the natural and cultural resources''. However, they also found that OMKM has not effectively implemented the CMP in three major areas: timely adoption of administrative rules; consultation with members of the Native Hawaiian community on matters related to cultural and resources issues; and engagement with the community on education and outreach efforts. On February 4, House Speaker Scott Saiki announced that he would like to see a new management structure of Mauna Kea to replace UH. UH issued a strong response, defending their commitment to improving stewardship of Maunakea. On March 4, the Hawaii State House of Representatives passed two resolutions to form a working group which will develop recommendations for the future governance of Maunakea. We expect more key developments regarding management of these lands as the year progresses.
  • The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory recently became the first telescope on Mauna Kea to submit its site decommissioning plan for approval. The draft was approved by OMKM, and the aim is for deconstruction and site restoration work to begin in summer 2022.

Finally, we remind you that the next TMT Science forum will take place June 26-29, 2022 at UBC in Vancouver.

CATAC membership:

Michael Balogh (University of Waterloo), Chair,
Bob Abraham (University of Toronto; TIO SAC)
Stefi Baum (University of Manitoba)
Laura Ferrarese (NRC)
David Lafrenière (Université de Montréal)
Harvey Richer (UBC)
Kristine Spekkens (Royal Military College of Canada)
Luc Simard (Director General of NRC-HAA, non-voting, ex-officio)
Don Brooks (Executive Director of ACURA, non-voting, ex-officio)
Sara Ellison (CASCA President, non-voting, ex-officio)
Kim Venn (TIO Governing Board, non-voting, ex-officio)
Stan Metchev (TIO SAC, non-voting, ex-officio)
Tim Davidge (TIO SAC Canadian co-chair; NRC, observer)
Greg Fahlman (NRC, observer)

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.