World's Only Spinning Oven for Telescope Mirrors is Fired Up

With the casting of its sixth primary mirror at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab at the University of Arizona, the world's largest telescope clears a major milestone toward completion. Sporting seven primary mirror segments, the Giant Magellan Telescope, or GMT, will provide astronomers with a one-of-a-kind tool to answer some of the most fundamentally grand questions about the cosmos and our place in it, including detecting signatures of biological activity on planets outside of our solar system.


About the GMT and Its Mirrors

With its unique configuration of seven honeycomb mirror segments, each spanning 27.5 feet, the GMT's light-gathering capability will be unprecedented. The GMT will make images 10 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope and will help astronomers answer some of the most pressing questions about the cosmos:

  • The detection, imaging, and characterization of planets orbiting other stars
  • The nature of dark matter and dark energy
  • The physics of black holes
  • How stars and galaxies evolved during the earliest phases of the universe


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Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab

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University of Arizona and GMT Experts

Buell T. Jannuzi

Buell Jannuzi

Head of the University of Arizona Department of Astronomy and Director of Steward Observatory
(520) 621-6524

Buell T. Jannuzi has served as the seventh Director of Steward Observatory and Head of the Department of Astronomy of The University of Arizona since 2012. Jannuzi was previously the director of Kitt Peak National Observatory and associate director of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (2005-2010) during his 17-year tenure as a member of the scientific staff of NOAO. He earned degrees at Harvard College and the University of Arizona (Ph.D. in astronomy). He then spent five years as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and was recognized in 1993 with a NASA Hubble Fellowship. His main scientific interests include the formation and evolution of individual, groups and large-scale structures of galaxies, the determination of the physical processes that produce quasars and other active galactic nuclei, and the properties of massive black holes. Jannuzi has been heavily involved with many large surveys of the universe, including one of the original three "Key Projects" for the Hubble Space Telescope, the Quasar Absorption Line Survey, and was co-principal investigator for the NOAO Deep Wide-Field Survey. Jannuzi has served on the board of directors or science advisory committees of numerous major ground-based and space observatories, including the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope, NASA Fermi Space Telescope, Gemini Observatory, Thirty Meter Telescope, Large Binocular Telescope Observatory, Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Corporation and the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization. He severed for two years as chair of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee, which advises the NSF, NASA and DOE on select issues in astronomy and astrophysics that are of mutual interest and concern to the agencies.

Robert Shelton

Robert Shelton

President, Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO)

As president of the Giant Magellan Telescope Corporation, Robert Shelton is on a mission to empower humanity to see farther into deep space with more detail than ever before. His leadership is focused on assembling the resources and international relations required to build the world's most advanced ground-based telescope. He believes the Giant Magellan Telescope is our chance to answer one of the most pressing questions: Are we alone in the universe? Shelton has a history of leading institutions and large projects with complex partnerships, budgets and timelines. Prior to joining the Giant Magellan Telescope in 2017, Shelton was president of the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, America's first foundation dedicated solely to funding science. Previously, Shelton served as the 19th president of the University of Arizona, the executive vice chancellor and provost of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and the vice provost for research for the University of California system. His leadership involving large astronomy projects includes governing board service on the Keck Observatories (California Association for Research in Astronomy), the LSST Corporation (Rubin Observatory), the Space Telescope Institute Council (Hubble Telescope), and the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. As a distinguished physicist, Shelton studied experimental condensed matter focusing on novel materials and their properties. He has authored more than 240 research publications in journals and 100 contributing papers. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a California Science & Technology Fellow, and a member of Sigma Xi and Phi Beta Kappa. Shelton has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, San Diego and a bachelor's in physics from Stanford University.

Buddy Martin

Buddy Martin

Project Scientist, Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab

Buddy Martin is the project scientist for mirror polishing at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab at the University of Arizona. He leads the fabrication and testing of large optics, including the 8.4-meter segments of the Giant Magellan Telescope. Buddy has a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge University and has been at Steward Observatory since 1986. He was a radio astronomer before moving up to manufacturing optics.

Rebecca Bernstein

Rebecca Bernstein

Chief Scientist, GMTO

Rebecca Bernstein is the chief scientist for GMTO and plays a leading role in ensuring that the observatory and its instruments will enable scientists at the founder institutions to meet the project's scientific goals. She interfaces with the technical and scientific community and represents the project at scientific conferences around the world. She is an accomplished optical designer and builder of scientific instruments, having designed and built a high-resolution spectrograph for Magellan and carried out the optical design for several others. She held professorships at the University of Michigan and at the University of California, Santa Cruz before coming to GMTO. While at the University of California, she led the design of a spectrograph for the Thirty Meter Telescope. She is a staff astronomer at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution.

James Fanson

James Fanson

Project Manager, GMTO

James Fanson is the project manager for GMTO. He is responsible for the overall technical and program management of the project. He leads the staff of engineers, scientists, and schedule and cost analysts responsible for the design, construction and commissioning of the observatory. He holds a Ph.D. in applied mechanics from the California Institute of Technology and spent 30 years at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he developed a number of space-based telescopes. Fanson played leading roles in many of NASA's most successful astrophysics programs, particularly the Kepler exoplanet mission, the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope and the ultraviolet Galaxy Explorer. He was a key member of the team that built Wide-Field Planetary Camera 2, the instrument that restored Hubble's vision. Fanson has served on the board of directors for Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy and the Gemini Observatory Council.

Stuart Weinberger

Stuart Weinberger

Manager, Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab

Stuart Weinberger has served as manager of the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab in Steward Observatory for six years. In that role, he oversees the work of 42 scientists, engineers, technicians, managers and support personnel who work on casting, grinding, polishing, moving, measuring and affixing hardware to glass honeycomb mirrors as large as 8.4 meters in diameter and weighing as much as 18 tons. Prior to joining Steward Observatory, Weinberger served as an officer in the United States Air Force for 24 years in numerous positions, including commanding airmen at both squadron and expeditionary group levels.

Jeffrey S. Kingsley

Jeff Kingsley's headshot

Associate Director of Steward Observatory and Director of Projects, Engineering and Technical Services for Steward Observatory and the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences
(520) 626-3527

Jeff Kingsley’s experience working on antennas, instruments, optics and large telescopes spans 35 years. He joined the University of Arizona in 2003 and was promoted to associate director of Steward Observatory in 2006. During his tenure at UArizona he has been most involved in managing projects, telescopes and technical groups for private, public, government and defense customers. As director of projects, engineering and technical services for Steward Observatory and the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences, Kingsley oversees more than 20 projects involving leading-edge advances in adaptive optics, fabrication and testing of large complex mirrors and optical systems. He manages teams of more than 150 scientists, engineers and technicians who implement these projects while supporting more than 26 telescopes on eight sites worldwide. As a project manager, Kingsley completed two scientifically challenging endeavors at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab: an $80 million project involving five Giant Magellan Telescope 8.4-meter off-axis primary mirror segments and one center segment, and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope monolithic 8.4-meter M1M3 mirror, a $20 million project. Kingsley has a degree in mechanical engineering from Thomas Edison State College.

Media Contacts

Daniel Stolte

University of Arizona
(520) 626-4402 (w)
(520) 954-1964 (m)

Cathi Duncan

Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab
University of Arizona
520-626-8792 (w)
520-909-1346 (m)