Apr 28

AURA Board Endorses Principles for the Future Management of Astronomical Facilities on Maunakea

At its April 28, 2022 meeting the AURA Board of Directors endorsed the following principles for the future management of astronomical facilities on Maunakea. The principles are the consensus of the Directors of W.M. Keck Observatory, Subaru Telescope, and Gemini Observatory. The opinions reflect the position of the individual directors of these three observatories and does not necessarily represent the official position of the observatories’ boards of directors or their funding organizations.

[1] We recognize and are grateful for the privilege of operating astronomical telescopes on Maunakea.

[2] We recognize that Maunakea is an indigenous space, and that Native Hawaiian people have profound relationships to the Mauna. We support Native Hawaiian involvement in any future Maunakea governance in a respectful, meaningful, and significant way; we believe this is essential to the long-term viability of astronomy on Maunakea. We must maintain a community connection, one that is long-term, recognized, and conveys trust and respect.

[3] We acknowledge the importance of supporting the responsible management of the environmental and cultural resources of Maunakea.

[4] Undertaking frontier, world-class observational astrophysics can be independent of, and detached from, whatever entity is responsible for the management of the science reserve which encompasses the major observatories. We are willing to work with any managing organization that is supportive of a future for astronomy on Maunakea.

[5] We seek a stable, long-term sub-lease for scientifically productive telescopes, to allow for effective long-range planning with our partners, funders, instrument builders, staff, and astronomy community. We understand that there are costs to decommissioning our facilities at the end of their useful life or when the lease ends.

[6] We need a viable, sustainable financial model for sharing the costs of administering the site.

[6a] The operation of world-class observatories requires essential services, such as power, networks, water, and transportation infrastructure support to be provided, on a cost reimbursement basis, to the facilities, including respectful but unfettered access to these complex facilities by authorized observatory staff.

[6b] The environment at Maunakea must be protected, including dark skies on the island, and the minimization of light, radio interference, dust pollution, and water pollution at the site.

[6c] Any telescope time contribution must be recognized as a real expense of the observatories when calculating other financial support that they will provide for the privilege of operating on Maunakea.

[7] We seek an astronomy voice (not control) in the executive deliberations of any governance arrangement. Due to the complexity of interfaces, the consequential costs, and the multitude of overlapping interests in operating major observatories, Observatory leaders must have meaningful representation and influence with the entity charged with managing the Maunakea science reserve.