Spain promising 'unanimous' support and funding if TMT moves to Canary Islands
After much controversy around the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) atop Mauna Kea, another country has offered their feedback. The TMT's second choice site after Mauna Kea is La Palma in the Canary Islands.
Now, as demonstrations continue, many in Spain are closely watching the situation in Hawaii unfold, and are even preparing for the possibility of a "Plan B" situation if project leaders decide to move the telescope altogether.
Spain's Minister of Science, Pedro Duque held a meeting with board of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), which governs the observatory where the TMT would potentially go. The IAC is already home to several other high-powered telescopes.
Pedro Duque says he regrets seeing the conflict happening in Hawaii, and wants the telescope built somewhere. He also says that if the project leaders were to move the TMT to Spain, they would have 'unanimous' support from the board, and funding ready to go. The board approved a draft budget which includes money to support a potential TMT.
“We want everybody to be successful in the enterprises which they initiate, and the projects they have. However we maintain the capacity and the goodwill of all the authorities and at all levels in the Spanish state so that if there is a decision to bring the telescope to the Canaries, the Spanish Government, the Government of the Canaries, the Cabildos, and the Municipal councils are all aligned in order to receive this telescope and we have all the necessary plans at all levels, the people, the speed, the systems, absolutely everything is ready if they want to come," Duque says.
A Facebook group called "La Palma quiere el TMT" or "La Palma Wants the TMT," is also gaining traction. Many in the group are talking about Mauna Kea and expressing their excitement in the idea of the project moving to Spain.
The move by Spain is emboldening kia'i on Mauna Kea, who are now using the Canary Islands as a rallying cry to remind the TMT that they have another option on the table.
However, a spokesperson for the TMT project said while they appreciate the support from the Spanish government, they remain committed to finishing the project in Hawaii.