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Announcement of System Verification Opportunities for First GNIRS Modes

Dear Colleagues,

The Gemini Near Infrared Spectrograph (GNIRS) is now installed in its new home on the Gemini South telescope and commissioning activities have begun. Therefore, we are happy to invite the Gemini community to propose System Verification programs for a subset of the GNIRS modes. You are receiving this because you are either Gemini staff, a member of the GNIRS instrument team, or a member of a National Gemini Office. Collaborations within the Gemini partner countries are highly encouraged as we have a limited number of observing nights and cannot do a large number of projects. Proposals submissions will be DUE no later than MONDAY, JANUARY 26, 2004 (details below).

System verification is the final step of testing prior to general use of the instrument by the Gemini community. It is intended to be "end-to-end" testing, verifying the readiness of the entire system from observation definition to data reduction. It is also intended to exercise the various modes of an instrument and demonstrate to the community, through interesting and challenging science programs, the potential of the GNIRS instrument. The following summary is extracted from the Gemini SV web page:

"SV observations will be selected by SV team members and approved by the Gemini Director. They will span a wide range of targets and perspectives and the SV teams will be responsible for providing written, in depth assessments of SV observations and mode verification within two months of data acquisition. The data obtained during SV will be made available by ftp to the international Gemini community and the assessments will be published on the Gemini SV web pages. Community participation...will help ensure that Gemini [with GNIRS] is a success from the first date of scheduled observations."

As you may know, GNIRS is a complex instrument with several observing modes including long slit spectroscopy from 1-5 microns with two pixel scales and a range of spectral resolutions; cross-dispersed spectroscopy from 1-2.5 microns; integral field unit spectroscopy and spectral polarimetry. Initial commissioning will involve the long slit (single order) and cross-dispersed modes with the "short" cameras, specifically:


  • long-slit spectroscopy, 1-2.5um, R~2000 and pixel scale of 0.15 arcsec/pix (low background)
  • long-slit spectroscopy, 1-2.5um, R~6000 and pixel scale of 0.15 arcsec/pix (OH limited)
  • long-slit spectroscopy, 2.5-5um, R=2000 & 6000, pixel scale of 0.15 arcsec/pix (thermal background)
  • cross-dispersed spectroscopy, 1-2.5um, resolution R=2000 (also 0.15"/pix)

This "call" for SV proposals concerns these modes only. Commissioning of the IFU and the "long" camera modes (including R=18000) is planned for later in 2004A and 2004B.

Approximately 7 nights in the first half of March have been scheduled to conduct the SV observations. Programs will be selected to cover a variety of targets, wavelengths AND observing conditions. While we are interested in pushing GNIRS to its faintest limits, and we are hopeful for good weather on Cerro Pachon in March, we also need projects that do *not* require 50%-tile image quality and photometric skies. Programs for worse than average conditions will be greatly appreciated and are more likely to be executed. In addition, targets south of -30 degrees declination are easier to observe because they are out of the prevailing northwest wind.

For the long-slit observations, we are interested in both point sources and extended objects, thermal and non-thermal wavelengths and both the moderate (R~2000) and high (R~6000) resolution modes available with the short cameras.

For the cross-dispersed mode, only R~2000 observations will be considered. Both point sources and extended objects may be proposed, however the slit length in the cross-dispersed mode is approximately 6 arcsecs.

More information about GNIRS and its capabilities can be found in the instrument's web pages.

The pages will be updated as commissioning proceeds in January, so please check back occasionally. The sensitivity tables currently give our best pre-commissioning estimates. An Integration Time Calculator will be made available on the web sometime in early January.

To submit a program, you must use the 2004A Phase I tool and include observing constraints, target lists, and instrument configuration information. Export the program to an xml file and EMAIL THE XML FILE directly to brodgers@gemini.edu by MONDAY, JANUARY 26, 2004.

Scientific justifications should be brief (1 page or less) and clearly state which modes are being tested. Technical justifications should be complete enough that feasibility can be assessed easily.

Early submissions will be appreciated. PIs will be informed of the results of the selection process in early February 2004, and Phase II files (using the Observing Tool) for selected programs will need to be returned by late February. Note that the recently released "wimbledon" OT has a GNIRS component which we encourage you to try out in advance.

Disclaimer: Submitting a SV program or even having a SV program selected as high priority does not guarantee that data will be taken. Selection for SV will also be based on the abilities of the proposers to reduce the data and return feedback within a reasonable time. The proprietary period for SV data is two months. PIs and their collaborators will need to provide reduced data for public release.

Please feel free to contact us with questions or comments-- we look forward to hearing from you and reading your proposals!

Sincerely,


Bernadette Rodgers

GNIRS Instrument Scientist

Gemini Observatory

brodgers@gemini.edu