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From Microfinance to Astronomy, Rohan Murthy Jumps Mountains

Rohan Murthy, son of Infosys founder NR Narayan Murthy, who is an investor in SKS Microfinance through his investment fund called Catamaran has set his eyes on an entirely different project this time — robotic astronomy project.

Pledging $1 Million for the Robo Astronomical project, Rohan and the family have succeeded to bring the California Institute of Technology project to Pune. The Caltech project was earlier hosted at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, helping a 2.1-meter telescope aimed at discovering new celestial bodies. Rohan will be funding the project and also overseeing its successful execution.

The Caltech project has an observatory with 2.1-meter telescope, which is the world’s only robotic laser adaptive optics system that works to eliminate the blurring effect provided by the earth’s atmosphere so that the solar system can be seen more clearly. The project was initially started by the Caltech Optical Observatories and the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune three years ago but was facing acute shortage of funds.

Rohan Murthy, whose Catamaran fund has chosen SKS Microfinance earlier, is confident that the new direction in astronomy would help the mankind in the long run. “Automating the discovery of the universe impacts one of mankind’s oldest activities: to look up at the heavens and wonder about our place in the universe.”

He has pointed out that the astronomical observation is an activity that has been the source of inspiration for religion, poetry, literature, science, and culture in general. “I am pleased to support a dedicated telescopic facility for Robo-AO, which will serve as a new frontier for what computer science can do for astronomy and for mankind, in general,” he defended his decision.

Rohan was known for his broad range of interests in the humanities, including philosophy, history, and the Classics. In 2010, he founded the Murty Classical Library of India with a generous gift to Harvard University.Murty Classical Library of India

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