Hawaii County police arrested a 30-year-old Kailua-Kona man on suspicion of criminal property damage at one of the telescope facilities on Mauna Kea.
Officers responded to a report of a traffic accident at 9:30 a.m. today involving a disorderly man, police spokeswoman Chris Loos said.
The man was alone when he allegedly drove a vehicle onto the Mauna Kea station of the Very Long Baseline Array, damaging the installation’s fence, building and official vehicles, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory said in a news release, adding the station’s two employees were uninjured.
“Initial reports indicate that the radio-telescope antenna is undamaged,” the observatory said.
Police arrested the man on suspicion of criminal property damage.
He is being held at the South Hilo police cellblock, pending further investigation.
Dan Meisenzahl, a University of Hawaii spokesman, said a 911 call was made at about 9:15 to 9:30 a.m. today.
As soon as Mauna Kea Support Services learned of what happened, staff closed the access to the top of the mountain, and it remains closed, Meisenzahl said.
Mauna Kea Support Services personnel are cooperating with authorities, he said.
Webcamera images showed a police car and a red truck in front of the VLBA telescope early this afternoon.
The VLBA is a continent-wide radio telescope system, with 10 25-meter diameter dish antennas, of which the Mauna Kea antenna is the westernmost. One is located in St. Croix and the other eight are on the U.S. mainland.
The VLBA is operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in New Mexico and is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities Inc.