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Hawaiian telescope disappears en route to Chile | Latin America

Hawaiian telescope disappears en route to Chile | Latin America

The final components of the Caltech Observatory (CSO)—the foundation, geodesic dome, and buildings—have been removed from the summit of Maunakea in Hawaii, and the terrain has been restored.

This officially concludes the decommissioning process for the Maunakea observatories, a process that began in 2015 and will begin in earnest in 2022 in accordance with the State of Hawaii’s 2010 Maunakea Observatory Decommissioning Plan.

Over the next three years, the site will be monitored to document negative natural repopulation by plants and animals at the summit. The results will be reported, according to Caltech, which posted a video of the final disassembly.

Operating from 1987 to 2015, the CSO opened a new window into the study of submillimeter wavelengths of light.which lies between infrared and radio on the electromagnetic spectrum. Their discoveries have covered a wide range of objects, including comets, planet-forming disks around stars, distant galaxies, and more. New sensing techniques have also been used in CSOs, and these techniques continue to play major roles in space- and ground-based observatories.


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The future of telescopes in Chile

Currently, the CSO is packed into shipping containers at a port in Hawaii, where it awaits a new purpose in Chile: the Leighton Chajnantor Telescope.The name honors both the telescope’s inventor, the late Caltech professor Robert B. Leighton, and the observatory’s planned location on the Chajnantor High Plain.

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The incarnate telescope will observe cosmic flares in real time, which have remained largely unexplored at submillimeter wavelengths.We will continue to observe planetary and stellar nurseries, as well as distant galaxies. The telescope components will be shipped to Chile for assembly next year, and the first observations are expected in 2027.