Maui News

PLANETS Telescope Proposed at Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory Site

November 7, 2016, 8:16 AM HST
* Updated November 7, 8:34 AM
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PC: KC Environmental Inc. via Finding of No Significant Impact document.

PC: KC Environmental Inc./Google Earth via Finding of No Significant Impact document.

The University of Hawaiʻi, Institute for Astronomy is proposing to establish and operate the PLANETS telescope facility located within the Haleakalā High Altitude Observatory Site near the summit of Haleakalā.

The proposed project would be specifically designed for low scattered light and high-contrast nighttime observations and would house the world’s highest-contrast optical telescope.

The proposed project involves the reuse and renovation of an existing structure that was formerly the University of Chicago Neutron Monitor Station to accommodate the proposed PLANETS telescope facility.

According to the University of Hawaiʻi, Institute for Astronomy, the proposed project was specifically designed to fit within the existing facility with minimal alterations in order to reduce potential impacts to environmental and cultural resources.

The purpose of the proposed project is to establish the world’s most innovative and powerful instrument designed to study the atmospheres of planets around the sun and other stars.

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According to the UH IfA, the proposed project would provide unprecedented scientific capabilities in the sciences of polarimetry and coronagraphy, and would have the potential to lead to discoveries in areas related to exoplanet detection, circumstellar environments, and extrasolar planetary atmospheres.

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No other telescopes currently exist that have these capabilities and are able to provide such a high level of contrast in low scattered light and during nighttime observations.

The state Office of Environmental Quality Control division issued a Finding of No Significant Impact determination. Comments are not taken on this action.

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