MSE Update

Submitted by Patrick Hall, MSE Advisory Group member, Pat Cote (NRC), MSE Advisory Group member, Michael Balogh (Waterloo), Canada Contact Scientist on the MSE Science Executive
(Cassiopeia – Autumn/Automne 2015)

Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer: Update, Mailing List, and Canadian MSE Team

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In early 2014 the CFHT Board of Directors approved funding for an independent Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) Project Office to develop the concept for replacing the current 3.6-meter CFHT into a full construction proposal by late 2017. Since that time, the MSE project has made great progress in its Design Phase.

It has been established that MSE will be a dedicated spectroscopic 11.25-meter telescope (with a 10-meter effective aperture), making it the largest non-ELT telescope in existence. The current MSE design calls for:

  • A 1.5 square degree field of view, for an etendue of 117 m2 deg2
  • 3468 fibers feeding low-resolution (R~3,000) spectrographs covering 0.37 to 1.26 microns at least (possibly out to 1.8 microns)
  • A moderate-resolution (R~6000) mode with wavelength coverage still to be defined
  • 1156 fibers feeding high-resolution (R~40,000) spectrographs.

The MSE design phase collaboration includes in-kind engineering contributions from Australia, Canada, China, France, Hawaii and India, and 84 scientists from 14 countries are participating in the MSE Science Team. The Detailed Science Case, Science Requirements Document and other foundational documents are being finalised and will be made available later in the Fall. Please see Documents for the latest documentation.

The first annual MSE Science Team meeting was held this past July on the Big Island of Hawaii. Meeting presentations are available for download at Science meeting including details on Science Reference Observations addressing a wide range of scientific topics:

  • SRO-1: Exoplanets and stellar velocity variability
  • SRO-2: Revealing the physics of rare stellar types
  • SRO-3: The formation and chemical evolution of the Galaxy
  • SRO-4: Unveiling cold dark matter substructure with precision stellar kinematics
  • SRO-5: Chemo-dynamical deconstruction of Local Group galaxies
  • SRO-6: The baryonic content and dark matter distribution of the nearest massive clusters
  • SRO-7: Galaxies and their environments in the nearby Universe
  • SRO-8: Multi-scale clustering and the halo occupation function
  • SRO-9: The chemical evolution of galaxies and AGN
  • SRO-10: Mapping the inner parsec of quasars through reverberation mapping
  • SRO-11: Linking galaxy evolution with the IGM through tomographic mapping
  • SRO-12: A peculiar velocity survey out to 1 Gpc and the nature of the CMB dipole

A Design Reference Mission is currently being assembled, composed of these SROs uniquely possible with MSE.

Of course, moving MSE from the design phase into the construction phase to make its science a reality will depend on fulfilling requirements under a new Master Lease which is currently under discussion for the University of Hawaii’s hosting of Maunakea observatories, and on identifying funding from partner countries.

Canadian astronomers who are interested in the science that will be enabled by MSE are invited to join a small group who will keep national and local communities updated on MSE’s progress, promote the project to the public, and lay the groundwork for eventual funding proposals. If you are interested in joining this Canadian MSE Team, please contact Patrick Hall at

MSE website:

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