Gordon Moore discusses his philanthropic priorities with Advancement Director Debbie Goodwin at a meeting to explore Keck Observatory’s future funding possibilities.
An important private public partnership has secured $10 million for the design and construction of a major new capability for the Keck I telescope. The National Science Foundation and philanthropists Gordon and Betty Moore have both committed $5 million to complete full funding for an infrared, multi-object spectrograph which will measure phenomena at the farthest reaches of the universe. The spectrograph will be operational by late 2009.
“At a time in our nation’s history when public funding for basic research is far less than it needs to be to keep us competitive, it is especially encouraging that concerned private citizens are stepping forward,” said Dr. Frederic H. Chaffee, former director of the W. M. Keck Observatory. “The generosity of Gordon and Betty Moore will not only lead to many unexpected discoveries that may very likely transform our understanding of the early universe, it will also support our nation’s continued leadership in science, technology and innovation.” Moore is the co-founder and long-time CEO of Intel.
The NSF funding for MOSFIRE was provided under the Telescope System Instrumentation Program (TSIP) which aims to provide access for U.S. astronomers to privately funded observatories such as Keck through a competitive application process. In exchange for funding for new instrumental capabilities under TSIP, observing time is made available to any U.S. astronomer whose project is approved by a panel of peers.
The new instrument, known as the Multi-Object Spectrograph for InfraRed Exploration (MOSFIRE), is being developed through a collaborative team of scientists and engineers representing the Keck Observatory, University of California at Los Angeles, California Institute of Technology, and University of California at Santa Cruz. When operational, MOSFIRE will allow astronomers to study the first generation of galaxies formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. By simultaneously measuring up to forty infrared spectra, or cosmic “fingerprints,” of distant galaxies, the instrument will be capable of undertaking ambitious sky surveys in a fraction of the time currently possible, surveys currently far too time consuming to even consider with today’s technology.
Published June 2006