Vice-Minister Sasaki Visits Subaru Telescope

February 4, 2011

Japan's Vice-Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Ryuzo Sasaki, spent two days in January visiting the Subaru Telescope and participating in a meeting focused on future international collaboration on astronomical research. MEXT's umbrella of responsibility includes supervision of Subaru Telescope's operation, which is completely funded by Japanese taxpayers.

Picture 1: At Subaru's base facility in Hilo, Vice-Minister Sasaki listens to an overview of Subaru Telescope's features, operation, and future plans.

The first day (January 9th) of the Vice-Minister's intense schedule centered on a tour of Subaru's base facility in Hilo. During this visit, Dr. Hideki Takami, Interim Director of Subaru Telescope, gave him an overview of recent research results from the Subaru Telescope as well as a profile of future plans for the telescope.

One highlight of the next day's (January 10th) activities was a tour of the Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, where Vice-Minister Sasaki not only observed some of the telescope's current maintenance operations but also conversed with staff about nightly astronomical observations and exchanged ideas about other topics of interest. After his tour at the summit, he went to Hale Pohaku (the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy) and met with representatives of observatories on Mauna Kea to discuss international collaboration in the future.

Vice-Minister Sasaki made the opening remarks at the meeting, and then the observatories' representatives reported on recent findings from their telescopes and commented on their future plans. The ensuing discussions included accounts of observations involving international cooperation among the observatories on Mauna Kea and then a consideration of ideal ways to work together. Vice-Minister Sasaki eagerly asked questions of the participants. The group concluded that international collaborations among the observatories on Mauna Kea should continue and become stronger in the future, as astronomical research moves into new frontiers with new projects such as the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Picture 2: Interim Director Hideki Takami escorts Vice-Minister Sasaki on a tour of the Subaru Telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea.

Picture 3: At Hale Pohaku, Vice-Minister Sasaki participates in a meeting focused on future international collaboration on astronomical research.

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