Celebrating 10 years of the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at MIT

MIT News Office, Debbie Meinbresse | MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research Tuesday, August 4, 2015

On June 18-19 the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research (MKI) held an anniversary celebration to mark its first 10 years, which have seen tremendous advances in astrophysics research, science, technology, and teaching.

A scientific symposium was held the morning of June 18. Professor Michael Sipser, dean of the School of Science, opened the symposium with welcoming remarks for members of the MKI community, project collaborators, and invited guests, who included The Kavli Foundation president Robert Conn and  executive vice president for science programs Miyoung Chun. Directors of two other Kavli astrophysics institutions also attended: Professor Tom Abel of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology and Professor Michael Turner of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics.

The first session highlighted MKI’s first decade and featured talks by Conn (“Science and Philanthropy”); MKI director and professor of physics Jacqueline Hewitt (“Roots: The Center for Space Research, Chandra, and More”); Professor Emeritus Rainer Weiss (“The Origins of LIGO”); and George Ricker (“A Decade-Long Journey to TESS”).

The second session focused on the exciting science and research opportunities facing MKI in the coming decade. Speakers included the Class of 1941 Professor of Physics and Planetary Science Sara Seager (“The Search for Habitable Planets”); Professor Max Tegmark (“3-D Mapping of our Cosmic Dawn”); the Curtis (1963) and Kathleen Marble Professor and associate department head of physics Nergis Mavalvala (“Gravitational Waves: A New Window on Astrophysics”); and the Francis L. Friedman Professor of Physics Robert Simcoe (“No Small Vision: The Giant Magellan Telescope”). 

MIT’s vice president for research professor Maria Zuber gave the closing remarks. The symposium was followed by a celebratory clam bake lunch for the MKI community and invited guests. The afternoon featured laboratory tours of MKI’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), the Space Nanotechnology Laboratory (SNL), and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Laboratory as well as small discussion sessions on the Giant Magellan Telescope with Robert Simcoe and exoplanet science and TESS with associate professor of physics Joshua Winn. The anniversary event concluded with a tour of the Microelectronics Facilities at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory on June 19.