Thirty Meter Telescope

Welcome to the official environmental review page for a potential future NSF investment in an Extremely Large Telescope in the Northern Hemisphere, the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Use this page to stay updated on the status of the U.S. National Science Foundation's environmental review and view opportunities for public involvement.

Why is NSF considering funding a new telescope?

Artist's conception of the multiple planet system
Artist's conception of the multiple planet system, initially discovered with Gemini North optics.

Credit: Gemini Observatory Artwork by Lynette Cook

The field of astronomy is entering a new era. In the next two decades, a new class of telescope — known as Extremely Large Telescopes — can be built with capabilities well beyond that of space-based telescopes.

These new telescopes will explore the signatures of life on other worlds, answering fundamental questions about humans' place in the universe: Is there other life out in the vast expanse of space? Are there other worlds with life that future generations can explore?

NSF is considering a potential future investment in the construction and operations of an Extremely Large Telescope in the Northern Hemisphere, the Thirty Meter Telescope. NSF understands that the possible construction of this telescope on Maunakea, Hawai‘i Island, Hawaii, is a sensitive issue that requires extensive engagement and understanding of various viewpoints.

NSF will not make a funding decision until after it considers the following: 

  • Public input.
  • The environmental review of the telescope.
  • The project's technical readiness.
  • The project proponent's management capabilities.
  • The availability of federal funding.
  • The telescope's alignment with other NSF priorities.

Note: A decision by NSF not to go forward with an investment in the construction and operations of the Thirty Meter Telescope could be made at any time, including before the environmental review process has concluded.

Tell us what you think

Tell us what you think


Comment on the Thirty Meter Telescope's environmental review

Comment on the Thirty Meter Telescope's environmental review

At this early stage in its environmental review, NSF is inviting comments on the information provided in its Notice of Intent.

Please submit your comments on the Notice of Intent by the end of the day on September 17, 2022, using the options below:

Send us your comment through the Thirty Meter Telescope Public Scoping comment form.

Address your comment to:

Ms. Elizabeth Pentecost, RE: ELT
National Science Foundation, 
Room W9152
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22314

Attend a public scoping meeting hosted by NSF. Presentations will begin at 6:00 p.m. HST, followed by a public comment period inviting oral and written comments.

Hilo: August 9, 2022, at the Grand Naniloa Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, Crown Room
93 Banyan Dr., Hilo, HI 96720

Naalehu: August 10, 2022, at the Naalehu Community Center
95-5635 Hawaii Belt Rd., Naalehu, HI 96772

Kona: August 11, 2022, at the Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa, Kaleiopapa Convention Center
78-128 Ehukai St., Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

Kamuela (Waimea): August 12, 2022, at the Kahilu Town Hall
67-1182 Lindsey Rd., Kamuela, HI 96743

Comments will be accepted during the meetings in writing and verbally. Please contact NSF at least one week in advance of each meeting if you would like to request special accommodations (e.g., sign language interpretation). Comments can also be provided in the Hawaiian language, which will subsequently be translated to the English language to facilitate NSF’s consideration of those comments.

Give feedback on NSF's Draft Community Engagement Plan

Give feedback on NSF's Draft Community Engagement Plan

NSF's Draft Community Engagement Plan outlines additional steps that NSF is taking to engage with the Hawaiian community and other interested members of the public. These steps are designed to provide more opportunities for meaningful and effective public engagement at critical junctures in NSF’s review process.

Hard copies of the Draft Community Engagement Plan will be available at the following libraries:

Oahu

James and Abigail Campbell Library
University of Hawaii at West Oahu
91-1001 Farrington Hwy.
Kapolei, HI 96707

Hawaii Kai Public Library
249 Lunalilo Home Rd.
Honolulu, HI 96825

 

Hawai‘i Island

Edwin H. Mookini Library
University of Hawaii at Hilo
200 W. Kawili St.
Hilo, HI 96720-4091

Thelma Parker Memorial Public and School Library
67-1209 Mamalahoa Hwy.
Kamuela, HI 96743

Hilo Public Library
300 Waianuenue Ave.
Hilo, HI 96720

Pahala Public and School Library
96-3150 Pikake St.
Pahala, HI 96777

Kailua-Kona Public Library
75-138 Hualalai Rd.
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

 

Kauai

Lihue Public Library
4344 Hardy St.
Lihue, HI 96766

Princeville Public Library
4343 Emmalani Dr.
Princeville, HI 96722

 

Maui

Kihei Public Library
35 Waimahaihai St.
Kihei, HI 96753

Please submit your comments on the Draft Community Engagement Plan by the end of the day on September 17, 2022, using one of the options below:

Send us your comment through the Draft Community Engagement Plan comment form.

Address your comment to:

Ms. Elizabeth Pentecost, RE: ELT
National Science Foundation, 
Room W9152
2415 Eisenhower Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22314

Where is NSF in its environmental review process?


Currently, NSF is:

  • Conducting public scoping under the "National Environmental Policy Act."

  • Initiating the Section 106 consultation process under the "National Historic Preservation Act."

  • Inviting public comment on its draft Community Engagement Plan.

If you have questions about the process or have any questions about using the above comment forms, please contact us at EIS.106.TMT@nsf.gov.

This figure visually depicts NSF’s Environmental Review Process for the Proposed NSF Investment for the Construction and Operations of an ELT in the Northern Hemisphere. A description of each step shown in the figure is described in Section 3 of the Draft Community Engagement Plan.
This chart shows the steps required under both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106), with additional steps to enhance public involvement during the environmental review of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Credit: National Science Foundation

 

Learn more about the proposed telescope