The MSE Observatory

MSE represents an innovative, comprehensive upgrade of the iconic 3.6m Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), that will tackle the key questions in astronomy in the 2020s and beyond, and operated within an expanded international partnership. MSE represents an innovative, comprehensive upgrade of the iconic 3.6m Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), that will tackle the key questions in astronomy in the 2020s and beyond, and operated within an expanded international partnership.

Building on the successful legacy of the CFHT − a pioneering 3.6 meter primary mirror telescope perched atop Maunakea, on Hawaii’s Big Island − the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) will provide the world with a uniquely important research capability.

MSE represents the realization of a long-held aspiration of the international astronomy community: a large optical and near-infrared facility dedicated to obtaining the spectra of many thousands of astronomical targets per hour.

More simply put, MSE spreads the light from every object that it observes into a rainbow of color - and it has the ability to look at thousands of objects simultaneously. Each rainbow (or spectrum), contains information about what that object is made of and how that object is moving.

Through the accumulation of large datasets of spectra, MSE will answer fundamental questions about the formation of stars and galaxies, all by examining the colors in each spectrum in exquisite detail.

From its outset, MSE has been designed to become a world-leading surveyor of the sky, with the capacity to observe nearly 1 million objects per month, every month for the life of the telescope. The potential for new discoveries is immense.

At the same time, MSE leverages its CFHT predecessor’s prime equatorial location – from which it can observe more than three quarters of the entire sky – to observe the Universe from one of the highest quality sites for optical astronomy on the planet.