Announcing the Launch of the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) Project Office

Throughout its 35 year history, CFHT has provided forefront research capabilities from its exceptional site on Maunakea. However, to maintain its potential to shed light upon the biggest questions confronting 21st century astrophysics, CFHT is launching a project to explore its renewal. A cornerstone of our renaissance will be the expansion of the current partnership, making Maunakea accessible to an even broader international research community.

Recently completed feasibility studies have demonstrated the opportunity to achieve compelling and dramatic science through upgrading CFHT into an advanced, modern and unique facility. When completed, the “next generation CFHT” – now named the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) – will yield stunning new research capabilities to tackle problems ranging from dark matter, dark energy and cosmology, to galaxy evolution and structure, the archaeology of the Milky Way, stars and stellar systems, exoplanets, and much more. The MSE project will upgrade the current 3.6 m telescope to a 10 m dedicated wide field spectroscopic telescope. With a field of view of ~1.5 degrees in which up to ~3200 separate objects could be observed simultaneously at spectral resolutions ranging from ~2000 – 20,000, MSE will be capable of delivering an exceptional quantity and quality of scientific data. Intended to support both individual programs and large scale surveys of unprecedented scale, MSE will enable new and richly diverse astrophysical research, complementing the other Maunakea observatories as well as those planned for deployment worldwide and in space.

The MSE Project Office is based in CFHT’s headquarters in Waimea, Hawaii, and is tasked with generating a Construction Proposal over the next ~3 years. A decision to proceed depends upon the resolution of many factors, which the MSE Project Office will take the lead in coordinating. Central to this project will be a design that provides the continued use of CFHT’s current site with least possible impact on our natural environment (e.g., reuse of the support building and central telescope pier). We will upgrade the telescope and instrumentation within the current building, as well as the enclosure, in a manner consistent with the Maunakea Comprehensive Management Plan. MSE will be achieved through responsible development upon CFHT’s current site, cognizant of community interests in the future of Maunakea. CFHT welcomes new partners in this exciting project and encourages participation through the MSE Project Office. The next few years will be pivotal for MSE as the design is developed, science case further refined and detailed, and the partnership built. Individuals or organizations interested in learning more about the MSE project are encouraged to contact either the CFHT Executive Director, Doug Simons (