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Former University Of Arizona President Named Head Of Telescope Project

Giant Magellan Telescope
(Photo courtesy of Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation)
The Giant Magellan Telescope will be constructed at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

A former University of Arizona president will lead the effort to build a ground-based telescope more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Robert Shelton will head the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization based in Pasadena, California. He was the UA’s 19th president, serving from 2006 to 2011. He is now in charge of the Tucson-based Research Corporation for Science Advancement which funds basic science research.

The Giant Magellan Telescope’s seven primary mirrors are made at the UA’s Mirror Lab and the university is a founding partner in the project. The telescope will be built in Chile.

UA astronomy department head Buell Jannuzi said Shelton has experience with major astronomy projects globally.

“Robert’s been involved in so many of our country’s leading telescope observatories. The Keck Observatory in California. When he was at the University of North Carolina, he was involved in the development of the SOAR Telescope in Chile," said Jannuzi.

After leaving the UA, Shelton was executive director of the Arizona Sports Foundation which produces the Fiesta and Cactus bowls. He is a physicist by training and will join the telescope organization Feb. 20.

Sara Hammond has an extensive background in journalism as well as corporate communication. A graduate of the University of Arizona’s (UA) School of Journalism, Hammond interned at the Tucson Citizen and, after graduation, spent 10 years reporting for the Portland Press Herald in Maine.