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Semester 2006A Overview and Call for Proposals

Semester 2006A Overview
and Call for Proposals

Proposals are invited for observations in semester 2006A (1 February  - 31 July 2006) with Gemini North and Gemini South. Here we give an overview of the capabilities offered and other proposal guidelines and restrictions. New capabilities include bHROS, an optical high-resolution (R=150,000) fibre-fed spectrograph on Gemini South, and a field lens for use with NIRI+Altair that provides higher and more uniform Strehl ratios across the field of view under certain atmospheric conditions. Please note that a separate Call for NICI Campaign Science Proposals will be issued at a later date, as will specific calls for demonstration science programs using NIFS, TEXES and the Gemini North Laser Guide Star System plus NIRI. [Updated 15 Sept: see the separate NICI Planet Search Campaign Call for Proposals].

Proposal Deadlines and Process

Applications should be submitted via your national Gemini proposal process. The submission deadline varies very slightly from country to country, in the range 30 September - 3 October 2005 [US, UK, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile 30 Sept; Univ. Hawaii 3 Oct]. Specific details and requirements of the proposal process in each partner country can be found by following the links to National Gemini Office pages in the Phase I overview.

The assessment and ranking of proposals within each partner country will be via National Time Allocation Committees (NTACs) supported by the National Gemini Offices. Assembly of the 2006A schedule and queue, definition of scientific ranking bands and resolution of conflicts by the ITAC will follow the procedures described in the Phase I overview and the proposal process schedule. All data will be subject to the normal Gemini proprietary data period of 18 months. As in 2005B the frequency of partner entries in the ITAC merging sequence is proportional to the advertised time available, better to take account of the various 'puts and takes' e.g. correction for aggregate imbalance in partner usage. 

Some countries permit submitting a program that uses both telescopes; in such cases the capabilities and time requested on each telescope must be stated clearly in the proposal. This is required because the National Gemini Offices will transmit separate XML files for Gemini North and Gemini South to Gemini Observatory for scheduling. Proposals may include the use of multiple instruments. If observations can be carried out with either GMOS (note that they have different capabilities) you must nevertheless specify one of them; the NTACs or ITAC may make changes.

Queue Rollover: the policy for rollover of highly-ranked queue programs will continue. Programs assigned by the ITAC into Band 1 are eligible for rollover into the next semester, for no more than two consecutive semesters, in order to increase the likelihood of program completion. Eligibility for rollover will be decided at the 2006A ITAC (for rollover into 2006B). Programs with rollover status assigned in 2004B will have reached their maximum continuation and will be removed from the queue; those from 2005A will automatically be carried forward i.e. PIs need not re-apply if the currently approved allocation is sufficient to reach the science goals of the program. National policies that affect eligibility are defined by the relevant NTAC.

Electronic submission: all partners support electronic submission of proposals from within the Gemini Phase I Tool (PIT). In the US, submission of non-joint proposals (see below) using the NOAO web form continues to be supported. A new version of PIT is available. If re-using a previous proposal, please read the joint proposal instructions (see next paragraph) on how to reset the submission flag.

Joint Proposals: if you submit the same proposal to several partner countries (a "joint proposal") you must do so using PIT. The PIT software, and backend servers installed at each National Office, allow automatic ("one-click") submission of the same proposal to multiple partners. The partners have agreed a common format, length and submission deadlines for joint proposals. See the joint proposal instructions for more details including how to reset the submission status if re-using a (single or joint) proposal from previous semesters.

Quick Response and Target of Opportunity programs: we continue to encourage Quick Response programs, intended to allow observation of targets that cannot be specified in advance but which have a well-defined scientific aim and an external trigger, through the normal proposal process. The observing tools enable very rapid response times (5-15 minutes). Quick Response observations are available with all facility instruments. The Director's Discretionary Time process supports observation of other (e.g. unexpected) events. 

Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) programs: in semester 2005B more than 10 separate proposals for Gamma Ray Burst follow-up studies were forwarded to ITAC by the NTACs. The ITAC and Observatory chose to substitute these proposals with two "umbrella" programs in queue Band 1 on both telescopes and to work with the PIs of the individual proposals to make best use of these time allocations e.g. by forming partnerships or time-division strategies. Applicants for GRB studies are strongly encouraged to coordinate their proposals before 2006A submission. The Observatory and ITAC reserve the right to form umbrella programs based on the proposals forwarded by the NTACs.

Time exchange (HIRES and Michelle): five nights are again to be exchanged between Keck Observatory (for Gemini community use of HIRES, with newly-upgraded detector) and Gemini Observatory (for Keck community use of Michelle on Gemini North). See below for the specific dates. 

GMOS Mask Definition: work is underway to allow mask definition from non-GMOS images in 2006A. For the time being, MOS masks must be defined from GMOS images and sufficient pre-imaging time should be included in the proposal if the images do not exist already. For classical proposals, the National TACs will add a separate pre-imaging program in the queue. In such cases, classical time for MOS will not be scheduled in the first month of the semester, to allow enough time between pre-imaging and the classical run. 

Instrument availability: with the anticipated arrival of NIFS and TEXES at Gemini North, and NICI and Flamingos-2 at Gemini South, the instrument ports on both telescopes will be overfilled. Instrument swaps will be required for their commissioning and science use and therefore one or more current instruments may not be fully available during the semester. Please read carefully the instrument and target availability tables which seek to balance Observatory scheduling priorities with the flexibility to respond to the requested target RA distributions. The allowed ranges combine possible instrument exchanges with best-guess schedules. Where possible we have tried to provide the least restrictions to applicants and thus it is possible that some targets or entire programs might prove not to be feasible when the final queue and classical schedule are assembled at ITAC. 

 

Gemini North: Instrument Availability

Instruments available in this semester are listed below. Note that there are restrictions on the scheduling and time available with certain instruments. New instruments and modes are offered on a shared-risks basis (see the definition of shared risks). Please see the target visibility tables for a summary of instrument availability.

GMOS (upper left), Michelle (lower left), Altair (upper right) and NIRI (lower right) mounted on Gemini North.

  • Facility instruments:
    • NIRI - near-IR imager and low-resolution spectrograph (see NIRI pages). NIRI is offered in queue and classical observing modes for imaging and spectroscopy.
    • Altair - facility natural guide star AO system (see Altair pages). Altair is offered in queue and classical modes for use with NIRI for 1-2.5um and L-band (broad and narrow-band filter) imaging and 1-2.5um spectroscopy. A new field lens increases the isoplanatic angle and produces more uniform Strehl ratios across the AO-corrected field of view during times when the dominant atmospheric turbulence is close to the ground, albeit with ~8% reduction in throughput.
    • GMOS North - optical imager, integral-field, long-slit and multi-object spectrograph (see GMOS pages). GMOS North is offered in queue and classical observing modes for imaging and spectroscopy. 
    • Michelle - mid-IR spectrograph and imager (see Michelle pages). Michelle is offered in queue and classical modes for imaging and for R=100-3000 and echelle spectroscopy at 10 and 20um. No polarimetry is available.
  • Other instruments:
    • HIRES - high resolution optical spectrograph on Keck. HIRES, with its upgraded detector, is available in classical mode only. Applications for Gemini community use of HIRES should be made through the normal Gemini proposal process; be careful to specify the blue or red cross-disperser as these cannot be interchanged during the night. Further information about the instrument is available from the (Keck) HIRES web site. Gemini's normal 3-night minimum restriction for classical proposals does not apply. The specific dates available are one night around 3-18 March, two nights around 1-16 May and two nights around 1-14 July.

 

See the relevant science instruments web pages for more detailed capabilities. Integration time calculators for all instruments are available.

At a later date we anticipate making available in 2006A the following new capabilities. These instruments are not available via this Call for Proposals; opportunities for their initial use will be advertised in separate System Verification (SV) or Demonstration Science (DS) Calls:

  • NIFS - Near-IR Integral Field Spectrograph (see NIFS pages)
  • NIRI + LGS - NIRI with laser guide star adaptive optics
  • TEXES -  high resolution mid-IR spectrograph (made available by University of Texas and shared with IRTF) 

 

Gemini North: Operational Modes

For semester 2006A, all modes of NIRI, Altair, GMOS and Michelle are offered in queue observing as well as classical observing modes. (Note that the latter has restrictions on visiting observers and a 3-night minimum classical run length, outside of special arrangements within individual partner countries, described on the classical observing web page). In addition, certain queue programs may be selected by the Gemini Director after the ITAC for classical observation by visiting observers; please indicate in the technical justification section of your proposal if this would be of interest. 

Imaging and long-slit observations with GMOS North (including its IFU), NIRI or Michelle may request "Quick Response" mode. This mode allows observation of targets that cannot be specified in advance but which have a well-defined scientific aim and an external trigger. Examples might include distant supernova or gamma ray bursts. We aim for a response time of no more than 18-24hr in the general case and have implemented a process with very rapid response (5-15 minutes) for approved projects. Proposals for the Quick Response mode should be made via the normal proposal process and must summarise the trigger event (e.g. identification of a target brighter than a pre-determined threshold) in the proposal abstract. (See more details of the Quick Response process and activation mechanism).

The balance between instruments will be driven by scientific merit via the time allocation process. Any instrument must succeed in being awarded at least 160 hours (approx 16 nights) in order to be mounted on the telescope instrument support structure.

Time-specific (including periodic monitoring and follow-up) programs may be accepted on a best-efforts basis. Note that the instrument scheduling may impose additional restrictions on this class of programs.

All observations require the use of one wavefront sensor (WFS) star for fast guiding, primary mirror active optics control and/or as an adaptive optics wavefront reference source. The specific requirements for each instrument are given in the relevant science instrument web pages ("performance and use" section). As the technical feasibility of proposals relies in part on the availability of WFS stars, all proposals must include suitable WFS stars. Proposals concerned with non-sidereal objects should indicate the likely availability of WFS stars in the technical justification but are not required to supply specific stars.

Non-sidereal tracking is available for all instruments provided that the peripheral WFS is used (i.e. GMOS and NIRI on-instrument WFS cannot be used).

For 2006A the declination range is -42 to +82deg (note that image quality degrades below 30 deg telescope elevation). No instrument changes will be allowed during classical nights. No other visitor instruments will be permitted.


Gemini North: Time Availability and Distribution

Due to the instrument activities during this period, principally commissioning of TEXES and completion of NIFS and laser guide star activities, in semester 2006A a minimum of 87% of the time will be made available for science use. This fraction includes "Compensatory Time" to the UK in return for the long-term transfer of Michelle to Gemini, "Guaranteed Time" to the NIFS instrument team and Demonstration Science programs for TEXES, NIFS and NIRI + LGS to be allocated out of Director's Discretionary Time.

The time available to the partner countries also depends on the allocation to Gemini staff (see an overview of the staff process); a fraction of 10% was assumed for this table. Estimates of the time for each partner are listed below:

Partner Estimated Nights
(or Hours) Available
US 51 nights (511 hours)
Univ. of Hawaii (host time) 12 nights (120 hours)
UK 33 nights (332 hours)
Canada 18 nights (179 hours)
Australia 7 nights (71 hours)
Argentina 3 nights (27 hours)
Brazil 2 nights (23 hours)

To maintain overall balance amongst the partnership, these values have also been adjusted from the nominal partner shares as a result of the historical usage of time. The exchange of 4 hours between Canada (+4hr on GN) and Brazil (+4hr on GS) is included. Weather and other losses are excluded from this table. The time available includes baseline calibrations on the sky which are assumed to be shared by all partners. The number of nights is obtained from int(hours/10). 


Gemini South: Instrument Availability

Instruments available in this semester are listed below. New instruments and modes are offered on a shared-risks basis (see the definition of shared risks). Please see the target visibility tables for a summary of instrument availability.

GMOS (left), T-ReCS (lower) and GNIRS (right) mounted on Gemini South. (GCAL is at the top)

  • Facility instruments:
    • GMOS South - optical imager, integral-field, long-slit and multi-object spectrograph (see GMOS pages). GMOS South is offered in queue and classical observing modes for imaging and spectroscopy. It is possible that the GMOS South CCDs will be replaced in 2006A. Applicants should nevertheless assume the current performance figures apply.
    • T-ReCS - mid-IR imager and spectrograph (see T-ReCS pages). T-ReCS is offered for imaging and spectroscopy (R=100 and R=1000) in queue and classical observing modes.
    • GNIRS - near-infrared long-slit and cross-dispersed spectrograph (see GNIRS pages). GNIRS is offered in queue and classical observing modes for R=2000, 6000 and 18000 long slit 1-5um spectroscopy, cross-dispersed R=2000 and R=6000 1-2.5um spectroscopy and with the integral field unit (IFU). 
    • bHROS - optical high-resolution spectrograph (see bHROS pages). bHROS is offered in queue and classical modes for single- and dual-fiber (object/sky) R=150,000 spectroscopy.
    • Whilst not a conventional facility instrument, the Acquisition Camera is offered for broadband (BVRI) optical imaging in queue-observing mode only. It's capabilities are limited compared with the facility imager (GMOS South) so is now being offered only for high repetition rate programs. As GMOS South is available for Quick Response programs, QR proposals will not be accepted for the Acquisition Camera. 
  • Visiting instruments:
    • Phoenix - high-resolution near-IR spectrograph (loaned by NOAO; see Phoenix pages). Phoenix is offered in classical observing mode only to be operated with support from the US National Gemini Office. For Phoenix only, Gemini's normal 3-night minimum restriction for classical proposals does not apply however applications should be for whole nights. 

 

See the relevant science instruments web pages for more detailed capabilities. Integration time calculators for GMOS South, GNIRS, T-ReCS and AcqCam are available as is a Phoenix calculator provided by the instrument team. (The bHROS calculator is not yet available; sensitivity tables are available on the bHROS pages).  

A separate Campaign Science Call for Proposals for NICI will be released at a later date. See the announcement and call for Letters of Interest for more information on the Campaign Science program.

  • NICI - Near-IR Coronagraphic Imager (see NICI pages)

 

Gemini South: Operational Modes

For semester 2006A, all available modes of GMOS, T-ReCS, GNIRS and bHROS are offered in queue and classical observing modes. (Note the restrictions on visiting observers and the 3-night minimum classical run length, outside of special arrangements within individual partner countries, described on the classical observing web page). AcqCam is available in queue mode only. Phoenix is operated classically, with support from the US National Gemini Office. In addition, certain programs may be selected by the Gemini Director after the ITAC for classical observation by visiting observers; please indicate in the technical justification section of your proposal if this would be of interest. 

Imaging and long-slit observations with GMOS South (including its IFU) and T-ReCS, and spectroscopy with GNIRS and bHROS, may request "Quick Response" mode. This mode allows observation of targets that cannot be specified in advance but which have a well-defined scientific aim and an external trigger. Examples might include distant supernova or gamma ray bursts. We aim for a response time of no more than 18-24hr in the general case and have implemented a process with very rapid response (5-15 minutes) for approved projects. Proposals for the Quick Response mode should be made via the normal proposal process and must summarise the trigger event (e.g. identification of a target brighter than a pre-determined threshold) in the proposal abstract. (See more details of the Quick Response process and activation mechanism).

The balance between instruments will be driven by scientific merit via the time allocation process. Any instrument must succeed in being awarded at least 160 hours (approx 16 nights) in order to be mounted on the telescope instrument support structure.

Time-specific (including periodic monitoring and follow-up) programs with other instruments may be accepted on a best-efforts basis. Note that the instrument scheduling may impose additional restrictions on this class of programs.

All observations require the use of one wavefront sensor (WFS) star for fast guiding, primary mirror active optics control and/or as an adaptive optics wavefront reference source. The specific requirements for each instrument are given in the relevant science instrument web pages ("performance and use" section). As the technical feasibility of proposals relies in part on the availability of WFS stars, they must include suitable WFS stars. Proposals concerned with non-sidereal objects should indicate the likely availability of WFS stars in the technical justification. WFS stars are not required for quick-response proposals (but will be required to execute the observations).

Non-sidereal tracking is available for all instruments provided that the peripheral WFS is used (i.e. GMOS and GNIRS on-instrument WFS cannot be used).

For 2006A the declination range is -90 to +33deg (note that image quality degrades below 30 deg telescope elevation). No instrument changes will be allowed during classical nights. No other visitor instruments will be permitted.


Gemini South: Time Availability and Distribution

Due to the major instrument commissioning activities during this period, principally NICI and Flamingos-2, in semester 2006A a minimum of 70% of the time will be made available for science use. This fraction includes "Guaranteed Time" to the NICI instrument team and the NICI Campaign Science program.

The time available to the partner countries also depends on the allocation to Gemini staff (see an overview of the staff process); a fraction of 10% was assumed for this table. Estimates of the time for each partner are listed below:

Partner Estimated Nights
(or Hours) Available
US 43 nights (431 hours)
Chile (host time) 12 nights (119 hours)
UK 17 nights (169 hours)
Canada 14 nights (143 hours)
Australia 13 nights (126 hours)
Argentina 2 nights (23 hours)
Brazil 3 nights (26 hours)

To maintain overall balance amongst the partnership, these values have also been adjusted from the nominal partner shares as a result of the historical usage of time. Purchase of 8 nights from the UK by Australia, and the exchange of 4 hours between Canada (+4hr on GN) and Brazil (+4hr on GS) is included. Weather and other losses and visiting instrument payback are excluded from this table. The time available includes baseline calibrations on the sky which are assumed to be shared by all partners. The number of nights is obtained from int(hours/10). 

 

Questions and Answers

All questions concerning proposals, or any other subject, should be made using the Gemini HelpDesk. This web-based system will send the request to your National Gemini Office staff in the first instance who will then escalate it to Gemini staff if necessary.



Last update August 29, 2005; Phil Puxley