In 1997, the Board commissioned a group chaired by Harvey Richer and Claude Catala , known as the NGC (New Generation CFHT) committee, to determine the type of ground-based facilty that might succeed the current 3.6m telescope in the 2010 decade, taking into account the planned array of new astronomical facilities. The report of this committee, known as the NGC Report included a comprehensive assessment of planned facilities Of the three options presented in its conclusion, the preferred one was a telescope in the 25m-class. A scientific case was made for such a telescope. Though three years old, this report is only slightly outdated and most of the main scientific drivers remain the same.
In the meantime, a new Master Plan for the Mauna Kea Science Reserve (the summit area and the mid-level area around Hale Pohaku) has been adopted by the Board of Regents of the University of Hawaii. The context in which the new Plan was developed included a heightened concern for protection of the environmental, historical and cultural qualities of the Mauna Kea summit. The full text of the Master Plan deals with all these issues. For present purposes, we need be concerned primarily with the Physical Plan for the summit and with the adopted guidelines that pertain to the development of Astronomical facilities.
At the December 1999 Board meeting, the Executive Director proposed to provide seed money for concept studies of a telescope that could replace the present CFHT. The intent was to present interim results of these studies at the planned CFHT21 meeting in December 2000 and to have the final reports available in time for the CFHT Users Meeting . In the Spring of 2000, the Scientific Advisory Council issued a call for concept studies . Three proposals were selected, one from each of the three CFHT partner communities.
The presentations made at the CFHT21 meeting provided an exciting glimpse
of a possible future for the CFHT. The CFHT Board of Directors, taking
note of the evident interest in replacing the CFHT, passed the following
resolution at their December 2000 meeting:
|The Board strongly encourages the Corporation
to continue its efforts to develop concepts for a new telescope facility
that would be consistent with the Mauna Kea Science Reserve Master Plan
and that would have an effective aperture much larger than 10m. The goal
for first light of for such a facility would be approximately 2010-2015.
The Board is pleased to note the success of the studies for a new telescope that were presented at the CFHT21 meeting and encourages groups in the member communities to continue to develop these concepts.
Since it is possible that an expansion of
the existing partnership would be required to undertake such a project,
the Corporation is encouraged to explore possibilities for new partnerships
and to receive expressions of interest from potential partners.