The University of Hawaii plans to decommission a third observatory and remove it from Mauna Kea, according to a Wednesday press release from the university.
The UKIRT Observatory, formerly known as the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope, began operating in 1979. The university described the observatory as “highly productive” and said it has facilitated “orbital debris studies, observation and cataloging of Near-Earth objects and world-leading astronomical survey projects.”
“UH is fulfilling itʻs promise to take several telescopes down from the mountain,” University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy director Guenther Hasinger said in the press release. “You can imagine for us as scientists this is very hard thing but this has to be done.”
The decommissioning process has already begun for the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory and UH Hilo’s Hoku Kea telescope. According to the university, the process includes a “environmental due diligence review, deconstruction and removal plan, site restoration plan and remedial action plan if necessary.”
“No new observatories will be built on the three sites,” the press release said. However, Meisenzahl said a portable teaching telescope may replace Hoku Kea.