Name of Mauna Kea Changed to “Maunakea”

From the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy:

Why have we changed the spelling of Mauna Kea to Maunakea? While the name Mauna Kea (white mountain) is simply descriptive, “Maunakea” is a name that in Native Hawaiian tradition is short for “Mauna a Wākea,” the mountain of Wākea, one of the progenitors of the Hawaiian people. Maunakea is believed to connect the land to the heavens.

By Vadim Kurland – originally posted to Flickr as IMG_2673.JPG, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10580597

The UH Hilo School of Hawaiian Language recommends the one-word spelling, and recently the Office of Maunakea Management started using the one-word spelling (but their abbreviation remains OMKM). According to Stephanie Nagata, director of OMKM, the name Maunakea has been accepted by the official Hawai‘i Board on Geographic Names, and the federal government has also accepted the name change, so new maps will now use the one-word name.

Hawaii Astronomer Receives $1 Million Award to Build Sharper Eyes for Maunakea Telescope

The University of Hawaiʻi’s 2.2 meter (88-inch) telescope on Maunakea will soon be producing images nearly as sharp as those from the Hubble Space Telescope, thanks to a new instrument using the latest image sharpening technologies. Astronomer Christoph Baranec, at the UH Institute for Astronomy (IfA), has been awarded a nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to build an autonomous adaptive optics system called Robo-AO-2 for the UH telescope.

The ultraviolet Robo-AO laser originating from the Kitt Peak (Arizona) 2.1-meter Telescope dome. Although the laser is invisible to the human eye, it shows up in digital SLR cameras once the internal UV blocking filters are removed. The apparent color of the laser beam is a result of the UV light leaking through the camera’s red, green and blue pixel filters by slightly different amounts. Image credit: C. Baranec

Construction of the new instrument starts at the IfA’s Hilo facility in September, and it will be operational in just two years. The instrument will take hundreds of high-resolution images of planets, stars and asteroids every night without operators on the summit. “The new Robo-AO-2 will usher in a new age of high-resolution science in astronomy,” says Baranec, “and we’re doing it with one of the oldest and smallest telescopes on Maunakea.”

The Robo-AO-2 system will take advantage of recent renovations to the UH 2.2-meter telescope, and the superior atmospheric conditions above Maunakea, to make some of the sharpest visible-light images from the Earth’s surface. “Because Robo-AO-2 will be so versatile and capable, we’ll be able to undertake surveys of an unprecedented number of exoplanet host stars and candidate lensed quasars, and even monitor the nightly weather of our planetary neighbors — all in high-definition color,” says Baranec. The latter is particularly timely as NASA is now planning to send probes to Uranus and Neptune in the coming decades. Knowing what to expect ahead of time is a crucial element of mission planning.

Baranec is also planning to use Robo-AO-2 to support education efforts in Hawaiʻi. “UH Hilo in particular has guaranteed time for their students on the UH 2.2-meter and I’m excited to see our local youth operating this cutting-edge technology for both classes and summer research projects,” says Baranec. In addition, time with Robo-AO-2 will also be made available to high school students through the Maunakea Scholars program, a partnership involving the Maunakea Observatories, Hawaiʻi State Department of Education and UHi, and led by Canada-France-Hawaiʻi Telescope (CFHT).

The new instrument is based on the prototype Robo-AO system developed by Baranec at Caltech, and later used with telescopes at the Palomar Observatory and Kitt Peak National Observatory. It has been an indispensable tool in confirming or revising the thousands of exoplanet discoveries made by NASA’s Kepler mission, and in measuring the rates at which different types of stars are born into single, double, triple and even quadruple star systems.

All Robo-AO systems use an invisible ultraviolet laser to create an artificial guide star in the sky to measure the blurring caused by Earth’s atmosphere. By measuring how the atmosphere affects this artificial star, a flexible mirror in the system can be deformed to remove its blurring effects. Because light from the laser and celestial objects pass through the same atmosphere, and both are reflected off of the deformable mirror, images of celestial objects are similarly de-blurred, leading to very sharp images limited only by the same laws of physics that limit the sharpness of space-based telescopes.

More information on the Robo-AO projects can be found on the Robo-AO Website.

State Conservation Officers Seeking Person of Interest for Mauna Kea Road Obstruction

Anyone who may have witnessed or have knowledge of rocks being placed on the   Mauna Kea Access Road, late afternoon, on May 16, 2016, is asked to contact the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE). This happened at the 5.5 mile marker of the summit road, at the 12,500 foot level. The rocks created a potential safety hazard as they were placed in the downhill lane, in the middle of a sharp right hand corner.

Rocks

DOCARE officers interviewed workers on Mauna Kea, who reported seeing a man in the area just before and after rocks appeared on the road.

Photos taken by a Hale Pohaku Visitor Center security camera show a shirtless man carrying a plastic gallon container and walking uphill along the road. A telescope worker confirmed that this was the person they witnessed on the road at about the time the rocks were placed.

Rocks personHe is described as 5’5″ – 5’8”, with a slim build. He was seen wearing light-colored white to light gray-colored board shorts and slippers, with a black-colored backpack. He was carrying an opaque plastic container.

If anyone has information about this incident you are asked to contact DOCARE at 643-DLNR.

Bullet Hole Found in Door of Telescope on Mauna Kea

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a report of damage to an observatory at the summit of Mauna Kea.

A bullet hole was reported in the door of the Subaru Telescope

A bullet hole was reported in the door of the Subaru Telescope

Officers responded to a report late Saturday night (June 6) of what appeared to be a “bullet hole” in a door at the Subaru Telescope at the Mauna Kea summit.

The damage reportedly occurred sometime between Friday evening and Saturday evening.

Police ask anyone with information about this incident to call Officer Nelson Cacho at 961-2213 or the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

UPDATE:

Hawaiʻi Island police have determined that damage to an observatory at the summit of Mauna Kea was not a bullet hole.

A detective investigated the scene Monday (June 8) and determined that a hole in a door to the observatory was caused by a bolt from an adjacent wall and that it had been there for approximately six months.

The case that had been initiated for this incident will be closed as unfounded.

Temporary Closures on Mauna Kea for Animal Control Activities

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will conduct animal control activities specifically for trapping mouflon/feral sheep hybrids; staff hunting, and/or aerial shooting from helicopters for feral goats, feral sheep, mouflon and mouflon/feral sheep hybrids within palila critical habitat in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve (Unit A), Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve (Unit K), and the Ka‘ohe Game Management Area (Unit G) on the island of Hawai‘i.

Mauna Kea Via UH

Aerial shooting is required for compliance with the federal court order mandating the removal of sheep and goats from critical habitat for palila, a bird endemic to Hawai‘i.

Control schedules are June 24 and 25, July 28 and 29, and August 26 and 27, 2015

Public access to Mauna Kea Forest Reserve from Waikahalulu gulch, north to Kemole, and east to Pu‘u Kole, Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve, the Ka‘ohe Game Management Area and Mauna Kea Hunter Access Road will be restricted and allowed BY PERMIT ONLY for animal salvage purposes on the following dates:

7 a.m. June 24 and 25, July 28 and August 26 and 27, 2015

These actions are pursuant to HAR§ 13-130-19 and § 13-104-23(a) (3). The Mauna Kea Observatory Road will remain open. The temporary closure is needed to minimize the dangers of incompatible uses in the forest area and safely conduct animal control activities. To implement the closure, the Hale Pohaku and Kilohana gated entrances to Unit A and G and the gate behind Mauna Kea Recreation Area will be locked/reopened as follows:

  • Locked 8 p.m. June 23, 2015, and reopened 7 p.m. June 25, 2015
  • Locked 8 p.m. July 27, 2015, and reopened 7 p.m. July 29, 2015
  • Locked 8 p.m. August 25, 2015 and reopened 7 p.m. August 27, 2015

Copies of the map illustrating the area subject to aerial shooting on these dates are available for inspection at the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Office.

Due to high public participation, telephone call-ins to the DOFAW Kamuela Office at (808) 887-6063 for receiving salvage permits will be conducted from 9 a.m. June 17, 2015, to 10 a.m. the day before each shoot day. One permit will be issued per call per vehicle for one day only. Applicants can have their names added to a stand-by list for additional days, should all slots not be filled by other applicants. No standbys waiting at the gates will be allowed access. The driver, occupants, vehicle license plate, and make/model of vehicle are needed when calling in. A maximum of 15 permitted vehicles will be allowed at the Pu‘u Ko‘ohi location.

Carcasses taken during the shoot will be available to the permitted public for salvage at the following location (4-wheel drive vehicles are required, and access permits will be issued). There is no guarantee that animals will be able to be salvaged.

Salvage locations are subject to change:

  • On June 24 and 25, and July 28 and 29, and August 26 and 27, 2015, at Pu‘u Ko‘ohi. Permittees must meet at Mauna Kea Recreation Area at 7 a.m. sharp.

Contact the Division of Forestry and Wildlife in Hilo at (808) 974-4221 or in Kamuela at (808) 887-6063 for additional details regarding meat salvage or access permits.

 

Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Begins Construction on Mauna Kea

Following the approval of a sublease on July 25 by the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) announces the beginning of the construction phase on Hawaii Island and around the world throughout the TMT international partnership. Contingent on that decision, the TMT International Observatory (TIO) Board of Directors, the project’s new governing body, recently approved the initial phase of construction, with activities near the summit of Mauna Kea scheduled to start later this year.

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

TMT with the Laser Guide Star at Night (An artist concept of TMT at night, with the laser guide star system illuminated).

Kahu Ku Mauna and the Mauna Kea Management Board reviewed, and the University of Hawaii Board of Regents recently approved, the proposed TMT sublease. The final approval from the Board of Land and Natural Resources—the last step in the sublease process—allows TMT to begin on-site construction on Mauna Kea, home to many of the world’s premier observatories.

“It has been an amazing journey for TMT, from idea to shovel-ready project,” said Henry Yang, TIO Board Chair and Chancellor of the University of California Santa Barbara. “We are grateful to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Hawaiian government, its citizens, and our project partners in bringing this important astronomical science effort to fruition. It is also my rewarding experience to work with so many community friends, University of Hawaii colleagues, and officials on both the Big Island and Oahu in this journey.”

The Rise of a New Observatory – Activities Around the World

The TMT project was initiated a decade ago by the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA), the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the University of California as the TMT Observatory Corporation. Now, as the TMT International Observatory (TIO)—founded as a nonprofit limited liability company on May 6, 2014 —the project has the official green light to begin constructing a powerful next-generation telescope.

The TIO founding members are Caltech, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan, and the University of California. India, an associate, is expected to become a full member later this year. Canada is also an associate and aiming to join as a full member in 2015.

Initial construction activities in Hawaii will include grading the site in preparation for future building work, enabling a site dedication ceremony in October. TMT is committed to work within a plan for responsible development on Mauna Kea created by the Office of Mauna Kea Management.

“TMT has worked for many years to design an unprecedented telescope, but also to work with the community to incorporate respect for Mauna Kea in our stewardship,” said Gary Sanders, Project Manager for TMT. “It is an honor and a privilege to now begin building our next-generation observatory in so special a place.”

Other work has already been proceeding off-site and will continue now apace.

“Design of the fully articulated main science steering mirror system in the telescope, as well as development of the lasers, laser guide star systems and other high-tech components, is proceeding in China,” said Yan Jun, Director General of the National Astronomical Observatories of China.

“Japan has seen to the production of over 60 mirror blanks made out of special zero-expansion glass that does not alter its shape with temperature changes. The blanks will be highly polished for use in the telescope’s 30-meter diameter primary mirror. The final design of the telescope structure itself is nearing completion,” said Masanori Iye, TMT International Observatory Board Vice Chair and TMT Japan Representative for the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

In Canada, the TMT adaptive optics facility is in final design. Ernie Seaquist, Executive Director of the ACURA, added, “The TMT enclosure design is complete and the enclosure is now ready for construction by a Canadian industrial firm.”

“Prototyping of TMT’s primary mirror assemblies and the building of mirror actuators, edge sensors, and support systems is ongoing in India,” noted Eswar Reddy, Program Director of the India TMT Coordination Centre.

Three “first-light” instruments are also under development with major contributions from all of the TMT partners.

The Path to Construction

The announcement of an imminent start to on-site work, where all of these initial developments will come together, is welcome news to scientists worldwide.

“The start of construction means that TMT is becoming real, and that’s exciting news for astronomers,” said Catherine Pilachowski, an astronomer at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., and an observer representing the United States astronomical community at TMT board meetings. “The science TMT will do is breathtaking, and will engage all astronomers in the adventure of new frontiers.”

The advancement of TMT to this stage of imminent on-site construction has been made possible by the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The foundation has spent $141 million to date to fund the design, development, and construction phases of TMT.

“I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and all of our partners and supporters,” said Edward Stone, the Morrisroe Professor of Physics at Caltech and the new Executive Director of TIO. “We are looking forward to starting construction this year and moving ahead.”

A Boost for Hawaii

The start of TMT on-site construction will directly benefit the local Hawaiian community. TMT will now make its first annual contribution to The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund, a program that promotes science, technology, engineering, and math education across grades K-12, secondary, and post-secondary education. Over the life of the TMT lease on Mauna Kea, TMT will give $1 million per year to the THINK Fund.

In the construction sector, TMT will create about 300 full-time construction jobs. TMT has committed to the hiring of union workers for these positions. Looking further ahead, during operations, TMT will have a staff of about 120-140, which will be drawn as much as possible from Hawaii Island’s available labor pool. A workforce pipeline program in the meantime will also educate and train island residents for jobs with TMT, as well as other observatories and high-tech industries.

“The start of construction of TMT is great news for Hawaii Island residents,” said Sandra Dawson, TMT’s Manager of Hawaii Community Affairs. “We are proud to be a good citizen of the community as we all work toward building a revolutionary astronomical instrument.”

 

Crew for Second HI-SEAS Mission Announced – Next Extended Simulation of Mars Exploration Begins March 28

The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa has announced the crew for the second mission of the Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program. The next extended simulation of Mars exploration here on Earth begins March 28.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

“The upcoming mission is focused on the social, interpersonal, and cognitive factors that affect team performance over time,” said Kim Binsted, associate professor at UH Mānoa and principal investigator for the next three HI-SEAS missions planned for 2014 and 2015.  “Hawai‘i provides a unique setting to simulate the challenging conditions for human exploration to Mars. We have selected a strong crew for our next four-month study.”

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

The site is set up at an undisclosed location on Mauna Kea.

HI-SEAS crew members were required have “astronaut-like characteristics,” including the ability to pass a Class 2 flight physical examination and undergraduate training as a scientist or engineer. The youngest crew member is 26; the oldest is 60 years old.  Like the astronaut mission specialists they represent, each participant is expected to bring a significant research project or other scholarly work of his or her own to complete while inside the space analog habitat.

The six crew members and the reserve (alternate) member are:

  • Ross Lockwood – A PhD candidate in condensed matter physics at the University of Alberta. Ross is from Winfield, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Casey Stedman – An officer in the US Air Force Reserve. Born in Vermont, Casey now considers Washington his home.
  • Ronald Williams – Director of the Neuropsychology Department at Fort Wayne Neurological Center, Indiana. Ron holds a PhD in Neuropsychology and is from Bloomington, Indiana.
  • Tiffany Swarmer – Research assistant studying human factors and performance for long-duration space missions at the University of North Dakota’s Human Spaceflight Laboratory.  Tiffany was born at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
  • Lucie Poulet – A PhD candidate at the Institute of Space Systems at the German Aerospace Center.  Lucie designs hybrid lighting systems for greenhouses to enhance plant growth and is from the Lorraine region of France.
  • Anne Caraccio – A NASA researcher developing a method of turning waste from space missions into useable gases for fuel/propulsion, environmental control, and life support systems. Anne is from Bellmore, New York.
  • (Reserve crew member) James Sakai, a mechanical engineer and Captain in the US Army Reserve, is from Rupert, Idaho.

During the upcoming study, researchers from outside of the HI-SEAS habitat will monitor the six crew members isolated inside the solar-powered dome at a remote site at 8,000 feet elevation on the slopes of Mauna Loa.  The researchers will evaluate the crew’s communications strategies, crew workload and job-sharing, and conflict resolution/conflict management approaches to determine the most important factors for the success of a long-duration space mission.

Food inventory by Sian

Food inventory by Sian

This mission follows on the heels of a successful 2013 Mars food study, which simulated the experience of astronauts on a real planetary mission and compared two types of food systems:  crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared.

More information, photos, and full biographies for the 2014 crew members are available on the HI-SEAS website at http://hi-seas.org/.  Members of the media can download high-resolution photos from the previous HI-SEAS mission at:  http://go.hawaii.edu/GQ

For more information, visit: http://hi-seas.org/

Volunteers Needed to Malama Maunakea

The Office of Mauna Kea Management (OMKM) is seeking community volunteers to participate in its monthly “Malama Maunakea” campaign to protect the mountain’s fragile resources.  Community members are encouraged to sign up for open volunteer days – Saturday, April 19; Saturday, June 7 or Saturday, July 26.

Volunteers work to help Malama Maunakea along with Office of Mauna Kea Management

Volunteers work to help Malama Maunakea along with Office of Mauna Kea Management

“Our overarching goal at the Office of Mauna Kea Management is to malama Maunakea. Taking care of 12,000 acres is a daunting task, but with collaborative community partnerships we can accomplish much,” stated OMKM Director Stephanie Nagata. “We are so thankful to the school groups, service organizations, Chambers, individual and families of volunteers who give of their weekend to take care of Maunakea.”

The invasive species weed pulls throughout 2013 proved to be quite successful with 236 participants volunteering 1,747 hours, pulling 363 garbage bags of invasive weeds on eight separate occasions and also planting 200 Maunakea silversword.

The Saturday weed pulls concentrate on eradicating the invasive fireweed (Senecio madagascariensis) along the Mauna Kea Access Road and around Halepohaku at approximately 9,200’ elevation.  The fireweed pulls help keep this invasive species from being transported to the upper elevation areas of Maunakea and reduce habitat for invasive insects.

The Malama Maunakea volunteer day begins at 8 am.  For Hilo-based volunteers, transportation to and from Hilo is provided. For West Hawaii volunteers, OMKM will help coordinate ride sharing. Upon arrival at Halepohaku, the volunteers are given a project orientation and allowed time to acclimate to the high elevation. Invasive weed pulls focus on the area along the Mauna Kea Access Road near Halepohaku. A brief tour of Maunakea resources completes this fulfilling day on the mountain.

Who can help? Everyone, including families and kids under parent supervision, student groups 16 years of age and older, community members, visitors, are all welcome.  Space is limited. To volunteer or for more information contact OMKM Natural Resource Program Manager Fritz Klasner at 808-933-3194 or email: OMKMvolunteers-grp@hawaii.edu.

Mauna Kea Human Remains Identified as Missing Man

Hawaiʻi Island police have identified human remains discovered last week at a remote location at the 12,000-foot elevation of Mauna Kea.

A view from a window inside the visitors information center

A view from a window inside the visitors information center

The remains were identified through dental records as Brian Patrick Murphy of Plymouth, Michigan, who was 67 when he was reported missing from that area in December 2007.

 

Countdown: Mars Food Mission Researchers Return to Earth

The countdown has begun.

Six researchers who have spent more than 100 days inside a remote habitat to simulate a long-duration space journey are finally returning to Earth.

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

HI-Seas photo by Angelo Vermeulen

About 700 applicants vied for six spots in the HI-SEAS mission, which began in April and will conclude on August 13.  These Earth-based researchers have been living and working like astronauts, including suiting up in space gear whenever they venture outside a simulated Martian base and cooking meals from a specific list of dehydrated and shelf-stable food items.

HI-Seas Crew Photo by Ian

HI-Seas Crew Photo by  Sian

The HI-SEAS study, led by Cornell University and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, is analyzing new types of food and novel food preparation strategies to keep astronauts well-nourished for space exploration.  The work is funded by the NASA Human Research Program.

Food inventory by Sian

Food inventory by Sian

The food study is designed to simulate the living and working experience of astronauts on a real planetary mission and to compare two types of food systems – crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared – as thoroughly as possible in the context of a four-month Mars analog mission.

Add ins for Tsampa photo by Sian

Add ins for Tsampa photo by Sian

“One possible solution to handle menu fatigue would be to allow astronauts to cook their own food instead of eating pre-prepared food day after day,” says crew member Angelo Vermeulen, one of the six researchers inside the HI-SEAS habitat, which is located on the Big Island.

Night Light Dinner photo by Sian

Night Light Dinner photo by Sian

At the end of the study, researchers will announce the winners of the HI-SEAS recipe contest.  Winning recipes in a number of categories will be featured on the HI-SEAS website.

Four Wheeling photo by Sian

Four Wheeling photo by Sian

The public is invited to follow along with the “Meals for Mars” videos, researcher blogs, and test recipes featured at http://hi-seas.org/ or on Twitter (@HI_SEAS) or Facebook.

 

Update on the Human Remains Found on Mauna Kea

Around noon on Tuesday, July 30, a Native Hawaiian Cultural Hiking group (Huaka’i I Na ‘Aina Mauna – Those who travel or explore the High Altitude Lands) on a “huaka’i” (trip or pilgrimage with cultural, environmental and spiritual components), located human remains that may resolve the mystery of a male hiker missing since 2007.

Image from a NASA Expedition I did back in 2009

Image from a NASA Expedition I did back in 2009

The team of hikers traveling near the summit of Mauna Kea about half a mile from 13,000 foot elevation Lake Wai’au (a “wahi pana” or sacred site), came across bones scattered over an extended area. A physician among the group, Dr. Baron Kaho’ola Ching, M.D., realized the bones were not from animals known to frequent the area. Then a collar bone and pelvic bone was found, the latter included an artificial hip replacement.

When the group realized it was human remains, a Hawaiian elegy (uwe) prayer was performed for the deceased. There is hope among the Hawaiian cultural practitioners that there will eventually be a proper burial for the person and peace and closure for the family. A group member made calls notifying the authorities, who will visit the site on Friday, August 2. The remains were left undisturbed as the group continued with their huaka’i, with deeper reverence for Mauna a Wakea. The group will continue its activities on the mountain through Saturday, August 3.

A member of KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance Board of Directors was also among the cultural participants.

 

Human Remains Found on Top of Mauna Kea

Hawaiʻi Island police received a report Tuesday (July 30) of human remains that had been discovered at a remote location at the 12,000-foot elevation of Mauna Kea.

HPDBadge
On Friday, police conducted a check of the area with the assistance of officers from the State Department of Land and Natural Resources and a ranger from the Office of Mauna Kea Management. They located the human remains.

Detectives are conducting checks to determine identity of the remains.

University of Hawaii Takes Over Legal Ownership & Responsibility of United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) on Mauna Kea

In May 2012, following a review process, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) announced that it would cease supporting the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) on 30 September 2013.

UKIRT UH

Photo by Tom Kerr

In October 2012, the Director UKIRT issued a global Announcement of Opportunity, soliciting for a new entity or partnership to take over the operation of UKIRT. This strategy has proved very successful: 13 Expressions of Interest were received, and after further discussions, two groups are currently developing full proposals.

In parallel with these developments, the University of Hawaii (UH) has agreed to take over the legal ownership of UKIRT and responsibility for the site on Mauna Kea when STFC-funded operations cease. This is a significant and very welcome initiative from our UH colleagues. The existing sub-lease for the UKIRT site will be terminated and UH expects to set up a scientific partnership with one of the two proposing parties to operate UKIRT.

In view of the time required to terminate the sub-lease and set up a partnership agreement with a new operating entity, STFC will extend UKIRT operations to 31 December 2013. This extension will enable both a positive outcome for UKIRT and an additional three months of science observing for the UK community. The science programme for this incremental period will be determined by the UKIRT Board.

Free Carcasses – DLNR and Division of Forestry Conducting Animal Control Activities on Mauna Kea

The Department of Land and Natural Resources’ (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will conduct animal control activities specifically for trapping mouflon/feral sheep hybrids, staff hunting, and/or aerial shooting from helicopters within palila critical habitat in the Mauna Kea Forest Reserve (Unit A), palila mitigation lands, and the Kaohe Game Management Area (Unit G) on the island of Hawaii for feral goats, feral sheep, mouflon and mouflon/feral sheep hybrids.

Just a goat!

Just a goat!

Aerial shooting is required for compliance with the federal court order mandating the removal of sheep and goats from critical habitat for palila, a bird endemic to Hawaii.

Control schedules are July 15 and 16, Aug. 28 and 29, and from September 3 to 6, 2013.

Public access to Mauna Kea Forest Reserve, palila mitigation lands, the Kaohe Game Management Area and Mauna Kea Hunter Access Road will be restricted and allowed BY PERMIT ONLY for animal salvage purposes on the following dates:

7 a.m. July 15, 2013 – 7 p.m. July 16, 2013
7 a.m. Aug. 28, 2013 – 7 p.m. Aug. 29, 2013
7 a.m. Sept. 3, 2013 – 7 p.m. Sept. 6, 2013

These actions are pursuant to Hawaii Administrative Rules Chapters 13-130-19 and 13-104-23(a)(3). The Mauna Kea Observatory Road will remain open.

The temporary closure is needed to minimize the dangers of incompatible uses in the forest area and safely conduct animal control activities. To implement the closure, both the Hale Pohaku and Kilohana gated entrances to Unit A and G and the gate behind Mauna Kea State Recreation Area will be locked/reopened as follows:

Locked 7 p.m. July 14, 2013, and reopened 7 p.m. July 16, 2013
Locked 7 p.m. Aug. 27, 2013, and reopened 7 p.m. Aug. 29, 2013
Locked 7 p.m., Sept. 2, 2013, and reopened 7 p.m. Sept. 6, 2013

Copies of the map illustrating the area subject to aerial shooting on these dates are available for inspection at the Division of Forestry and Wildlife Office.

Due to high public participation, telephone call-ins to the DOFAW Kamuela Office at (808) 887-6063 for receiving salvage permits will be conducted from 9 a.m. July 10, 2013, to 10 a.m. the day before each shoot day. One permit will be issued per call per vehicle for one day only. Applicants can have their names added to a stand-by list for additional days, should all slots not be filled by other applicants. No standbys waiting at the gates will be allowed access. The driver, occupants, vehicle license plate, and make/model of vehicle are needed when calling in. A maximum of 15 permitted vehicles will be allowed at the Puu Koohi location and 10 permitted vehicles at the Kaluamakani location.

Carcasses taken during the shoot will be available to the permitted public for salvage at the following locations (4-wheel drive vehicle are required, and access permits will be issued). There is no guarantee that animals will be able to be salvaged.

Salvage locations are subject to change:

  • On Sept. 3 and 5, 2013, at Puu Koohi. Permittees must meet at Mauna Kea State Park at 7 a.m. sharp.
  • On July 16, Aug. 28 and 29, and Sept. 4 and 6, 2013, at Kaluamakani. Permittees must meet across from the Waimea Veterinary office on Mana Road at 6 a.m. sharp.

Contact the Division of Forestry and Wildlife in Hilo at (808) 974-4221 or in Kamuela at (808) 887-6063 for additional details regarding meat salvage or access permits.

Mary Begier and Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce Presented With Community Hero Awards

Hawaii Invasive Species Council Recognizes Commitment to Malama Mauna Kea

Hawaii residents and visitors alike appreciate the wonderful diversity of life in the islands.  Invasive species however, threaten this diversity and are both harmful to the environment, economy, or human health; and are not native to the area where they are a problem.

Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week is intended to increase awareness of such concerns among visitors, residents, elected officials, and other community leaders while recognizing the outstanding contributions coming from all segments of society in protecting Hawaii from invasive species.

Senator Malama Solomon and  Mary Begier

Senator Malama Solomon and Mary Begier

Senator Malama Solomon presented Mary Begier and the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce with the 2013 Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) Community Hero Award in a ceremony on Monday, March 4th during the first annual Hawaii Invasive Species Council Award ceremony at the State Capitol Auditorium. The Community Hero Award recognizes a community member or community based group that has been a shining example of dedication to prevent or manage invasive species.  Mary Begier and the Hawaii Island Chamber shine brightly in their commitment to help support the Office of Mauna Kea Management (OMKM),  University of Hawaii at Hilo in  its efforts to implement the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

The CMP is an integrated planning tool for resource management for the UH Management Areas on Mauna Kea including the Mauna Kea Science Reserve, the mid-level facilities at Hale Pohaku and the Summit Access Road.  During the approval process of the CMP, Begier and the Chamber pledged to become more involved in community-based stewardship of Mauna Kea and assisted the OMKM  by rallying its members with a call for volunteers for invasive weed pulls beginning in March 2012.  Thus launching OMKM’s community invasive species control program.
In 2012, the invasive weed pull program included over 110 volunteer days totaling more than 800 volunteer hours removing several hundred bags of invasive weeds  (fireweed, mullein, telegraph weed, and others)  from the mid-level facilities at Hale Pohaku and along the summit access road corridor.

“Stakeholder participation is critical to our programs to malama Mauna Kea and is an effective tool to help us manage the resources within UH’s managed lands on Mauna Kea. Mary Begier and the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce have supported our efforts  from day one. When we started the discussion on engaging volunteers, they quickly pitched the business community and helped us raise awareness and understanding in addressing invasive species management issues,” said Office of Mauna Kea Management Director Stephanie Nagata.

“The Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce members volunteer and collaborate as advocates for those things that make Hawaii Island a great place to live,” said Vaughn Cook, HICC President. “Mary is one of those members who gets involved and keeps us all mindful of our community commitments.  As a chamber, we supported the development of the CMP. Mary’s determination to help the University of Hawaii successfully manage their lands on Mauna Kea quickly spread and today, many Hawaii Island Chamber members continue to volunteer and kokua Mauna Kea.”

In total, more than thirty-seven statewide nominations, including individuals and organizations were submitted for the 2013 HISC Awards. Mary Begier, and Office of Mauna Kea Management Director Stephanie Nagata attended the award presentation.

2012 Sea to Stars – Hardest Hill Climb in the World

Endurance cyclists have a new race to add to their bucket list with slots remaining for the 2012 Sea to Stars cycling expedition on Saturday, August 11 – the hardest hill climb in the world.

Those up for this epic life-changing challenge will depart from the oceanfront Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows and cycle to the Mauna Kea Visitors Center riding a distance of around 49 miles and climbing to 9,300 ft elevation.

Mauna Kea earns the distinction of the world’s tallest mountain from the sea floor (30,000 ft tall), higher than Mount Everest which stands at 29,000 ft.

With a steepness grade of more than 17 percent, Sea to Stars has been billed one of the toughest hill climbs in the world.

After the race, shuttle buses will transport cyclists back to the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows for an outdoor recovery after-party party and BBQ.

An awards ceremony will recognize the overall male and female winners and a range of prizes will be up for grabs.

The Mauna Lani Bay is offering Sea to Stars competitors an accommodation offer with rooms starting from $199 per night.  The hotel is located on three miles of pristine shoreline and is recognized as one of the “World’s Top Earth-Friendly Getaways” by Conde Nast Traveler.

For more information and to register visit Sea to Stars.

To stay at The Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, official host hotel of Sea to Stars, visit www.maunalani.com or call (800) 367-2323.

WHAT: Sea to Stars Cycle Race

WHEN: Saturday, August 11, 2012 from 9 a.m.

WHERE: From The Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows to Mauna Kea Visitors Center

COST: $95

REGISTER: www.seatostars.net or www.active.com

Lake Waiau on Top of Mauna Kea

The hike to this fresh water lake on Mauna Kea is about 3/4 mile one way and is surrounded by spectacular views.

Lake Waiau on Mauna Kea

The only sound is that of the wind.

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Lake Waiau is a high-elevation lake located at 13,020 feet (3970 m) above sea level on Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawaiʻi. It is the seventh highest lake in the USA  (higher than Lake Titicaca), and one of very few lakes at all in the state of Hawaiʻi. It is relatively small, only about 100 m across, and varies in size as the water level rises and falls. At high water levels a small outlet stream appears at the northwest end, but it is absorbed into the ground after a short distance. The name means “swirling water” in Hawaiian, though it is usually rather placid. It usually freezes in winter, but aquatic insects such as midges and beetles can be found breeding in the water.

The Transit of Venus… The After Party

I’d like to personally say thanks to Andrew Cooper over at The Darker View for providing live commentary from the Keck Telescopes up on Mauna Kea today of the Transit of Venus.

I was truly watching the broadcast on and off all day and I think Cooper and the Keck’s coverage was much better then the actual NASA footage of the event.

If “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”… I’m wondering when it will be the guys day for some serious exposure?  All us Martians are pretty jealous of the Venutians!

Here are screen shots I took from the Keck Website today:

 

 

Video – Understanding the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)

Near the center of Pasadena, California, a team of scientists, engineers, and project specialists is busily planning and designing what eventually will become the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth. When completed later this decade, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will enable astronomers to study objects in our own solar system and stars throughout our Milky Way and its neighboring galaxies, and forming galaxies at the very edge of the observable Universe, near the beginning of time.

A 30-meter telescope, operating in wavelengths ranging from the ultraviolet to the mid-infrared, is an essential tool to address questions in astronomy ranging from understanding star and planet formation to unraveling the history of galaxies and the development of large-scale structure in the universe.

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Blackhawk Helicopter View of Mauna Kea

I found this video of a Blackhawk Crew Chief 15T lifting off from Pohakuloa Training Area on Mauna Kea pretty unique because we don’t normally get a view of this part of Mauna Kea because it’s restricted from tour helicopters.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/6dM7DfPw5eI]

The caption on the clip that was uploaded last month stated:

Flight from PTA on the big island of Hawaii headed back to Oahu.