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Despite pause in construction at Mauna Kea, work continues elsewhere for giant telescope

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HILO, Hawaii — It's not clear when construction of a giant telescope will resume near the summit of Mauna Kea, but work on the project is going on elsewhere.

Many people oppose building the $1.4 billion telescope on a mountain held sacred by Native Hawaiians. Protests have led to the company building the telescope to agree to a construction moratorium. Grading and grubbing work at the site has been postponed since March 31 when 31 people were arrested for blocking construction workers from accessing the summit.

TMT Observatory Board Member Michael Bolte said in an email the project hasn't been canceled despite a halt in construction at Mauna Kea, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald (http://ow.ly/NduH7) reported Wednesday. A construction restart date hasn't been determined, he said.

In the meantime, TMT is having discussions with the community while other areas of the project move forward as planned, Bolte said.

Workers in India are fabricating the telescope mirror system, TMT said. In China, workers are designing the telescope's fully articulated steering mirror system and developing its laser guide star system. The primary mirror and mirror-control system are in the final design stages in California. Japan has produced glass mirror blanks for the main mirror and continues designing the massive telescope structure.

"International teamwork today will enhance future science collaborations for the next generation," Bolte wrote.

The TMT is a California nonprofit formed by the University of California and the California Institute of Technology. Institutions in Canada, China, India and Japan signed on as partners and would receive a share of observing time.

"Canada is proud to be an official partner in this revolutionary facility that has the potential to transform our understanding of the universe," Canadian Minister of Industry James Moore said in a statement.


Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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