Press and News

Winter 2011

Korea Looks to the Future with GMT

The Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI), established in 1974 as the national astronomical observatory of South Korea, is a government-funded research institute. The institute maintains several optical and radio observatories and GPS stations in Korea and overseas. As the only national institute devoted to supporting the Korean astronomical community, KASI plays a critical role in underpinning the advancement of astronomical science and technology. The participation in the GMT project as the 9th founding, and only Asian, member is a groundbreaking achievement for Korea. This has fulfilled both KASI and the Korean astronomical community’s dream of making the quantum leap to global top-tier status for Korean astronomy. In this effort, two astronomers are worthy of special attention as they are acting as key leaders in science and technology development related to GMT.

Dr. Jaemann Kyeong

Dr. Jaemann Kyeong

Dr. Jaemann Kyeong, the K-GMT research scientist in KASI, is active in studies of galaxy formation and evolution in clusters, a key science area for the GMT. The connection between galaxy formation and the birth of stars and planetary systems provides a direct link from cosmological studies down to the scale of habitable zones in planetary systems. Dr. Kyeong and his colleagues in Korea hope to use the unique power of GMT to link galaxy formation and evolution studies over the full Hubble time.

“I absolutely agree that Korea should prepare for the era of GMT by carrying out research programs in midcourse phase which will help Korean astronomy prepare for the big jump from 1.8m to 25m apertures, as pointed out by international experts. We expect to advance the research capability of KASI together with the Korean universities based on the joint research using international 4m to 8m telescopes in preparing for GMT. To speed growth we plan to send Korean astronomers to the top astronomical institutes overseas and seek opportunities for international collaborations. Since today’s students will be the primary users of GMT, we are paying special attention to providing opportunities for them in Korean and international universities,” Dr. Kyeong said.

Dr. In-Soo Yuk

Dr. In-Soo Yuk

The Infrared Astronomy Group at KASI, led by Dr. In-Soo Yuk, is developing two high-resolution near infrared spectrographs (IGRINS and GMTNIRS) in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin. IGRINS (Immersion GRating INfrared Spectrograph) is an innovative instrument that enables simultaneous observation in all of the H- or K-band with a single exposure. It uses silicon immersion gratings to achieve high dispersion in a small package. It is also the forerunner instrument of GMTNIRS (GMT Near-Infrared Spectrograph), a candidate for a first generation GMT instrument. A concept design study for GMTNIRS is underway at this time at KASI and UT Austin. KASI is endeavoring to ensure that GMTNIRS will go into operation early in the life of the facility and that it will enable major advances in our understanding of the formation and early evolution of stars, protoplanetary disks and other phenomena in the Milky Way and at cosmological distances.

Visit KASI’s website.

Keith Raybould Joins GMT as Project Manager

Keith Raybould

Keith Raybould

GMTO is pleased to welcome Keith Raybould as Project Manager. Keith comes to GMTO after 11 years at MBARI (the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute), most recently as Chief Operating Officer managing major projects funded by the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (NSF MREC) budget. Keith brings deep experience and expertise working with large project teams tackling engineering challenges associated with large telescope projects.

Keith’s engineering career started in the marine field with the Royal Corp of Naval Constructors, designing and procuring naval ships. He moved into the telescope field in 1983 to work on the 3.8m United Kingdom Infrared Red Telescope (UKIRT) and the 15m sub-millimeter James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii. While at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory managing the thermal and structural group designing space satellite instrumentation, he was offered the opportunity to work with Roger Davies on the United Kingdom Large Telescope project at Oxford University. After two years of development work, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada joined together for what became the Gemini 8m telescope project.

In the early 1990’s, Keith moved to Tucson, Arizona to manage the Gemini 8m telescope structure, building and enclosure groups, taking each of these areas from their early requirements phase to site construction. He thought that the Gemini 8m telescope was the most exciting and rewarding project he worked on, until GMT came along. “The opportunity to be the project manager for GMT, to work with a first-class project team, and to work with international partners to develop one of the most powerful telescopes in the world is an opportunity I really could not miss.”

Chicago President Zimmer Visits GMT Site

December brought a special visitor to the Las Campanas Observatory, as President Robert J. Zimmer of the University of Chicago came to see the Observatory and learn first-hand about the research being conducted there. Zimmer, who was joined by David Greene, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for the University of Chicago, was making his first trip to Chile as university president.

“Visiting Las Campanas was an essential part of our trip,” Zimmer said. “It was informative to view first-hand the telescopes and to learn more about the plans for the Giant Magellan Telescope.” During the visit, Zimmer met with the director of the observatory, the chief scientist and engineer who built the existing Magellan telescopes, and one of the principal designers of the Giant Magellan Telescope. Additionally, there was a tour of each of the two Magellan telescopes.

The group also heard a lecture from Wendy Freedman, GMTO Chair and Director of the Carnegie Observatories, who spoke about her excitement that the University of Chicago has joined the Magellan consortium as a key intellectual partner. There was also a lecture by Michael Gladders, an assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago, who said he came to Chicago in part because of the promise of working on these telescopes.

Several prominent Chileans accompanied President Zimmer on the trip, and they gained an appreciation of the telescopes’ importance for science and of the telescope industry’s role in Chile. “We continue to be very enthusiastic at the prospects for the Giant Magellan Telescope,” Zimmer said. “It is clearly a project of enormous technical complexity, but one that we all anticipate will illuminate the early universe and enhance both our detailed and conceptual understanding of it.”