Eminent Engineer and Physicist Appointed to Lead Giant Magellan Telescope Project

3 September 2014

Pasadena, CA – The Board of Directors of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization is pleased to announce the appointment of Edward I. Moses, Ph.D., as President of their organization. Moses, former Principal Associate Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, will lead the organization responsible for the development of the billion dollar, 25-meter Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). The University of Texas at Austin is a founding partner in the GMT project.

The GMT will be larger than any telescope in existence today and will be built by a major international collaboration with partner institutions in the United States, Australia, Korea, and Brazil. It will be used to discover and characterize planets around other stars (including the search for telltale signs of life), to probe the formation of stars and galaxies shortly after the Big Bang, to measure the masses of black holes, and to explore fundamental issues in cosmology and physics, including dark matter and dark energy. The giant telescope is expected to come on line at Las Campanas Observatory in the Chilean Andes early in the next decade.

“Ed has unique skills, knowledge, and experience to lead the design, construction, and commissioning of the GMT,” said Wendy Freedman, chair of the GMTO Board.

Moses received his B.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Cornell University. He holds patents in laser technology, computational physics, and fusion energy systems and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and belongs to many other prestigious scientific organizations. At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he led the development of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the largest optical and laser project ever constructed. The NIF uses high-power lasers to focus energy at the level needed to initiate the conversion of hydrogen to helium in fusion reactions similar to those occurring in the center of the Sun and other stars.

“I look forward to applying my experience in large science and cutting-edge technology projects to the leadership role in the GMTO. The project has a great team of scientists and engineers in a powerful collaboration of world-leading institutions,” Moses said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for me to take part in a revolutionary telescope project and scientific community that will change the nature of our understanding of the cosmos.”

The GMT will use seven of the largest optical mirrors ever made to form a single telescope 25.4 meters (or about 80 feet) in diameter with nearly a factor of 10 increase in light-gathering capability compared to any existing telescope. Advanced optical technologies using powerful lasers will be used to produce images of distant celestial objects with clarity ten times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope. More than one hundred engineers and scientists at the GMT offices and the partner institutions are engaged in the development of the telescope and planning for its use.

The GMT project team has recently completed a rigorous set of design reviews and is poised to begin construction. More than 40,000 cubic meters of rock has been cleared from the summit of Las Campanas Peak in northern Chile to provide a platform for the telescope. The first of the seven 8.4-meter diameter primary mirrors has been completed at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. Two other mirrors are being ground and polished, and the glass for the fourth mirror will be cast next year. Construction of the observatory’s on-site infrastructure and fabrication of the telescope mount and other systems are expected to begin in 2015.

Edward “Rocky” Kolb, Dean of Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago and GMTO Board member, said, “Ed Moses is a highly respected leader in the world of experimental physics and energy research. He brings a unique set of skills and experience to the GMT organization as we transition from the design phase to construction.”

“The appointment of such an eminent and experienced leader as Ed Moses to the position of President of GMTO marks a key milestone in the development of the GMT,” said Matthew Colless, vice-chair of the GMTO Board. “This brings us one giant step closer to first light.”

The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) manages the GMT project on behalf of its international partners: Astronomy Australia Ltd., The Australian National University, Carnegie Institution for Science, Harvard University, Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, The University of Arizona, The University of Chicago, The University of Texas at Austin, and Universidade de São Paulo.

For more information about the Giant Magellan Telescope, please visit http://www.gmto.org.



Media contact: Davin Malasarn, GMTO: 626-204-0529

Science Contacts:  

Dr. Wendy Freedman, University of Chicago: Chair, GMTO Board of Directors
Dr. Matthew Colless, Australian National University: Vice-chair, GTMO Board of Directors
Dr. Edward “Rocky” Kolb, University of Chicago
Dr. Edward Moses, President, GTMO



GMT Artist's Concept