Biggest telescope may swap continents

One of the world's biggest telescope projects might be forced to move its location to a different continent.

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) was due to be built in Hawaii, but ran into opposition with indigenous groups which consider its proposed site sacred.

Now the TMT's board says a site in the Canary Islands, Spain, could act as a potential alternative.

The $1.4bn project will enable experts to study the early Universe and peer into the atmospheres of exoplanets.

It is one of a raft of big observatories - along with the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) and space-based James Webb telescope - intended to serve astronomy into the 2020s and beyond.

Cloud-free Pacific skies, low atmospheric water vapour and other attributes make conditions at Mauna Kea, Hawaii, among the best in the world for astronomy.

The site intended for the TMT was just below the the 4,207m summit of the dormant volcano.

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