Jun 9, 2009

Geology rocks and space matters.

I received news that Gemini Observatory is shutting down for the entire month of July for telescope mirror resurfacing. I guess it's an annual tradition, since they did the same last year. Keck has one laser run in the month, but it's only six days long, and I would be given merely a fraction of those days to work. Looks like it would be the ideal month to jump on a plane and escape from the utter monotony and familial tension for a few weeks, since I wouldn't be missing out on hardly anything around here.

Another observatory, Subaru, is just starting to work out the kinks in their adaptive optics system. Ever since the 'Big One' of '06 destroyed their sensitive laser, they've been trying to g6et it going again. Whenever they do start operating the laser again, that could translate to more work available throughout the months.

It is also looking more likely that the Thirty Meter Telescope will be sited on the summit of Mauna Kea, right near the other observatories. This behemoth would take awhile to build, but it would introduce a significant amount of jobs both through the construction phase and in the form of research and maintenance positions. Of course, there are the usual native Hawaiian activists trying to fight it from defiling their sacred mountain, but the EIS draft suggests they won't have much to justify their argument. I can understand their point of view, but it's not as if they would be razing sacred temples or denuding hundreds of acres of pristine forest. The summit is hardly anything more than a huge pile of brown volcanic rocks, and I'm sure the ancient spirits residing at the summit can co-exist with another research facility occupying such a minuscule portion of their vast territory. If not, well, they'll just have to take over and scare all the astronomers back to sea level.

Mauna Kea is dormant, not extinct. Perhaps it could erupt again in my lifetime, but not nearly as likely as the neighboring volcano Mauna Loa. For now, it is at once the past of this island's creation and the future of astral discovery.

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