Making Rainbows - The Universe In Color
The Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer Mission Statement – The mission of the Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer Project is to execute a diverse suite of large-scale spectroscopic surveys of millions of astrophysical objects at a range of wavelengths, spectral resolutions, redshifts, and spatial scales. The MSE Project will construct and operate a dedicated, optimized 10m-class telescope facility to enable the scientific study of some of the faintest objects in the Universe. The resulting science data products will be constructed to maximize scientific impact, seeking to meet all scientific requirements for the observations, and available in an expeditious and scientifically usable manner.
The Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer project will transform the CFHT 3.6m optical telescope into a 10m class dedicated multiobject spectroscopic facility, with an ability to simultaneously observe more than four thousands of objects with a spectral resolution range spanning 3,000 to 40,000. The project is currently in design phase, with full science operations nominally starting in 2027. Before completion, the project will also have transformed and expanded the partnership into one poised to tackle global themes in concert with the coming wide field surveys and the new Extremely Large Telescopes.
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.