Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics & Astronomy
College Station, Texas 77843
Numerous international astronomy reports have recently highlighted the need for fully dedicated, large aperture, highly multiplexed spectroscopy at a range of spectral resolutions in the optical and near infrared wavelength range. Such a facility is the most obvious missing link in the emerging network of international multi-wavelength. The Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) is a planned 11-m telescope designed to fill this missing gap. It will be completely dedicated to multi-object spectroscopy of samples of between thousands and millions of astrophysical objects. It will lead the world in this arena, due to its unique design capabilities: it will boast a large (11.25 m) aperture and wide (1.52 sq. degree) field of view; it will have the capabilities to observe at a wide range of spectral resolutions, from R2500 to R40,000, with massive multiplexing (4,332 spectra per exposure, with all spectral resolutions available at all times). With these unrivalled capabilities, MSE will collect a number of spectra equivalent to an entire SDSS Legacy Survey every eight weeks and will provide critical follow-up for multi-wavelength imaging surveys, such as those of the LSST, Gaia, WFIRST and the ngVLA. MSE enables a synergy between wide-field imaging surveys and pointed follow-up by the Thirty Meter Telescope and the Giant Magellan Telescope. In this presentation, I will provide an overview of MSE, describing the many science drivers and transformative discoveries that it will enable in a broad range of fields, from exoplanetary systems through to the Milky Way, black holes, cosmology and dark matter. I will review the current design status, as well as the international partnership, and highlight numerous opportunities for engagement of Texas A&M in the ongoing scientific and technical development of this next generation observatory.