Former University Professor Chosen as Chair for Telescope Board

Former University Professor Walter Massey will be leading the effort to build the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile.

By Adam Thorp and Editor-in-Chief ('18–'19)

A physicist who taught and guided research at the University of Chicago will lead the effort to build a telescope its builders claim will produce images 10 times sharper than those produced by the Hubble Telescope. 

The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO), a partnership between the University and 10 other schools and institutions, announced Wednesday that Walter Massey will chair its board. Massey worked at the University as a professor and as the vice president for research. Massey has since worked in the administration of several other academic institutions, and is currently the chancellor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He also headed the National Science Foundation and was the founding chairman of the National Society of Black Physicists.  

The Giant Magellan Telescope is under construction in Chile. It will be the largest optical reflecting telescope in the world at its scheduled “first light” in 2025, though it will eventually be outpaced by the even more literally named European Extremely Large Telescope and Thirty Meter Telescope.  

“The GMT is one of the most exciting and important scientific projects underway in any field, and it has true potential to play a major role in developing programs and opportunities for the future of astronomical discovery. I’m excited to participate in maturing and shaping a scientific instrument of this caliber, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to see it through to successful discovery,” Massey said in a prepared statement.