The international Gemini Project is one of the most important programs in ground-based astronomy for the Gemini partner countries: the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Chile, Argentina and Brazil. The objective is to construct two 8-meter telescopes to provide astronomers in the partner countries with coverage of the whole sky with state-of-the-art telescopes and instrumentation for the optical and infrared wavebands. There has been a revolution in the design of large optical-infrared telescopes, and the Gemini telescopes will incorporate many innovative features in the design, including the use of thin meniscus primary mirrors, computer control of the shape of the primary mirror, tip-tilt corrections of large-scale wavefront errors, and adaptive optics. These innovations will not only result in the telescopes having four times the collecting area of conventional 4-meter telescopes, but they will also produce very much sharper images. Because of the outstanding quality of the Mauna Kea site for infrared observations, very low thermal emissivity is a prime goal for the northern Gemini Telescope. At a recent meeting of the Gemini Board of Directors, it was shown that the demanding goal of 2% emissivity could be achieved by the use of silver coatings on the primary and secondary mirrors. Furthermore, by the use of tip-tilt corrections and adaptive optics, the northern telescope will be essentially diffraction-limited at 2µm. The southern telescope is designed so that similar capabilities can be incorporated if desired in the future. The combination of these features results in an enormous increase in scientific capability for all types of astronomical studies.
This is the first annual report of the international Gemini Board to the Agencies of the Partner countries. The Board is pleased to report that the Project has made outstanding progress since the signing of the Gemini Agreement on 28 October 1993. We highlight the following achievements since that date:
Most of the major contracts for the two telescopes, their enclosures, and site works, have now been let. The instrumentation plans for both telescopes are well developed.
The Board congratulates the Gemini Project for an outstanding performance during these crucial early years. In the Board's view, the Project is well on course to meet all its specifications and exceed them in many important areas. Each enhancement of performance brings added value to telescopes that already promise to be among the premier instruments for astronomy in the 21st century.
Chairman, Gemini Board, on behalf of the Gemini Board
Back to the Annual Report Table of Contents