13 telescopes to resume operations on Mauna Kea amidst TMT protests
After the longest shut down in the history of Mauna Kea astronomy all 13 observatories on the mountain will resume operations.
On July 16th, Mauna Kea Observatories opted to temporarily cease operations on the summit. Telescopes were disabled and more than 500 staff were relocated to remote locations in Hilo and Waimea. After a month long hiatus due to demonstrations against Thirty Meter Telescope construction MKO announced Friday employees would return to the summit.
"Morale is up again. Everyone that I've spoken to says it just feels surreal to be able to be working again," said Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Operations Manager Ivan Look.
Technical staff will return to the summit first to get telescopes back up and running.
"We kind of put our telescopes into sleep mode and by doing that most of our systems have been off-line. We have to go through our shutters, through our windscreen, just move it through all the gyrations to make sure there's no leaks," Look said.
MKO says it hopes to resume scientific research as soon as possible.
Demonstrators continue to block the main road leading up to the mountain. But agreed to allow observatory staff to use a makeshift side road state crews patched together Wednesday alongside the protectors' base camp. During a press conference Friday afternoon, kia'i reiterated peaceful protests on the access road as MKO staff return to work.
"All of those astronomers, all of those technicians, they have come here and they've always been accepted and welcomed with 'kapu aloha' and we will continue in that manner as we move forward," said Pu'uhonua O Pu'uhuluhulu leader Kaho'okahi Kanuha.
Governor David Ige released this statement:
"The interim solution for access to the telescopes is a step forward but remains inadequate for the long term. The state remains committed to re-opening the Maunakea Access Road intersection as an immediate priority."