Base Facility Operations – A Success at Gemini North
Base Facility Operations (BFO) are now fully implemented for the Gemini North telescope and all nighttime telescope operations are routinely conducted from the Hilo Base Facility (HBF). Gemini North night crews report that observing is much more efficient with BFO.
The BFO team accomplished a huge amount of work to make this happen, and many changes have been made both on the mountain and in Hilo. For a more detailed look at the BFO initiative read the October issue of GeminiFocus starting on page 18.
Observing crews at Gemini North have been testing the BFO mode since September of 2015 and, with the exception of bad weather in late 2015, the implementation of BFO went off without a hitch. Initially, staff worked from the summit control room without going to the observing floor to fix faults, or going outside to check on the weather. Later, day crews stayed into the evening to make sure that the observers at the HBF were able to set up without any problems. With that success, the full transition to BFO progressed quickly.
Myriad Benefits of Base Facility Operations
Moving Gemini’s nighttime operations to the HBF presents many benefits to Gemini, staff, our users, and even the environment. With fewer staff regularly driving up the mountain there are obvious cost savings, as well as reduced environmental impact on the mountain and our atmosphere. In addition, BFO enhances the safety of staff while obtaining the best quality data. Improved working conditions for the night staff include a warmer, and more oxygenated, environment, as well as increased safety as a result of reduced mountain travel. Staff members have expressed relief at not having to worry about such things as checking to see if the road is getting icy due to fog. Having more personnel available at the base facility also makes for more effective observer support. Finally, BFO allows for consolidation of resources, easier access by other observatory staff, and for on-site and virtual visits from our users.
Celebrating a Job Well Done
On Thursday, January 14th, 2016 staff at Gemini North and South gathered at both base facilities to celebrate the success of BFO implementation.
Future Plans for BFO at Gemini South
The transition to BFO is now in the works at Gemini South with detailed planning so the transition goes as smoothly as it did at Gemini North!