Astronomy

UH IfA Director Leaving for European Space Agency

December 14, 2017, 12:54 PM HST
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Günther Hasinger. UH IfA photo.

University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) Director Günther Hasinger is leaving to be the next director of science at the European Space Agency (ESA), Europe’s equivalent to NASA.

Hasinger will be responsible for the definition, planning and execution of ESA’s science program, which includes working with member countries and international partners like the United States.

Hasinger has been with the university since 2011.

“I am extremely honored to have been part of the IfA ʻohana and to have worked with such a talented and dedicated group of people,” said Hasinger, who will be based in Spain and will be closer to his family, including his first grandchild. “I look forward to future partnerships between ESA, NASA and the ground-based observatories, especially those here in Hawaiʻi.”

UH will name an interim director for IfA and begin the search for a new director.

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During his tenure, Hasinger led the institute during the ongoing TMT process and regularly represented the university during the proceedings. He also oversaw many significant advances at IfA. The Pan-STARRS1 telescope on Haleakalā, Maui, came into full operation, eventually producing the world’s foremost sky survey, and becoming the world leader in the detection of asteroids, comets and near-Earth objects.

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Hasinger also helped shepherd the transfer to UH of the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope and James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Maunakea. The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, also on Haleakalā, drew close to completion during his tenure.

Lasting changes to IfA’s education and outreach programs were also made under his leadership. The institute and the UH Mānoa College of Natural Sciences developed a new undergraduate degree program, offering a BA in astronomy and a BS in astrophysics. IfA also worked with the Maunakea observatory community to significantly expand public outreach, including development of the Maunakea Scholars program. IfA now organizes more than 200 events annually, reaching 25,000 people across the state.

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