Mauna Kea: The Road Ahead for the Thirty Meter Telescope

Feb 28, 2014

Artist's rendering of the side view of the Thirty Meter Telescope

The UH Board of Regents recently approved a sublease for the planned Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea on Hawai’i island. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports that this advances the project but does not clear the way for construction to begin.

For more information on KAHEA, check out their website

The various telescopes atop Mauna Kea rent out time at their facilities, with income ranging well into the millions of dollars by some estimates.  The University, however, charges the telescopes a set annual rental: "(For the TMT) Rent will start with the signing of the sublease, following approval by the Board of Land and Natural Resources.  It starts at $300,000 per year and increases progressively to $1.08 million when the telescope is operational, which is estimated to be in year 11.   The annual rent will be adjusted for inflation.  Of the $1 million, 20 percent will be paid to OHA and 80 percent will be deposited into the Mauna Kea Lands Management Fund, which by law can only be used for the management of Mauna Kea.   

Older telescope subleases include nominal rent of $1 per year.  The basis for this nominal rent is to allow the University to build a globally recognized astronomy program in the State of Hawai‘i."  Non-dollar benefits cited by the University include benefits through program developments in other disciplines, the purchase of goods and services, support of local businesses, and opportunities for jobs.