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Case Praises Work of Astronomers Atop Mauna Kea

Says their work was critical in capturing first image of a black hole

(Honolulu, HI) – U.S. Congressman Ed Case (Hawai‘i – District 1) gave the following speech on the floor of the U.S. House today shortly after announcement of the scientific breakthrough at simultaneous news conferences around the world:

Madam Speaker,

I rise today to recognize the groundbreaking contributions of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and Submillimeter Array, located on the 13,803 feet summit of Mauna Kea in Hawai‘i, and celebrate their contributions to a truly international effort producing the first-ever image of a black hole.

Part of the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, the JCMT and SMA joined six other telescopes around the globe to form an Earth-sized telescope of unprecedented power and resolution able to ‘photograph’ the supermassive black hole in the M87 galaxy. Hawai‘i’s key contribution was to place world-class telescopes in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Astronomers partnered with renowned Hawaiian language and cultural practitioner Dr. Larry Kimura to suggest the Hawaiian name Pōwehi, meaning embellished dark source of unending creation.

These Hawai‘i observatories pioneered the study of black holes and, thanks to powerful new capabilities, perfect conditions atop Mauna Kea, and dedicated personnel, we can all look forward to more of JCMT and SMA’s cutting edge discoveries in the future, in addition to the continued growth and reputation of Hawai‘i as a world leader in exploring our heavens. *

Case also noted the contributions of astronomy to Hawai’i education, through STEM programs in Hawai’i schools and continued advancement of the University of Hawai’i, and to economic development through expanding job opportunities. He also highlighted the role of federal scientific and educational funding to Hawai’i. Case, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee and on its Subcommittee on Commerce, Science and Justice overseeing much of this funding, said “astronomy plays a key role in efforts to diversify our economy.”

“We need to continue to support the world class work of these scientists not only because they work on the frontiers of discovery but because these efforts expand so many more opportunities in both the public and private sectors.”

*For a video of his remarks on the House floor today on this topic, please go to his official website, and click on the YouTube tab on the top right corner of his home page.