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Gemini e-Newscast #41

Sep 28, 2012

Sharpest-ever ground-based optical images of Pluto and Charon

Using speckle imaging techniques and their own camera, the Differential Spectral Survey Instrument (DSSI), on Gemini North, Steve Howell (NASA Ames Research Center) and collaborators have obtained the highest resolution ground-based optical images of Pluto and Charon.  They verified and refined previous measurements of the orbital parameters and measured the bodies' diameters.  The figure below shows a reconstructed image, achieving resolution of about 20 milliarcseconds average.  These results will appear in Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and more information is available now from Gemini.  The team also spent some time following up on planet candidates identified in observations from NASA's Kepler mission.  The DSSI is likely to return to Gemini North in mid-2013 and be available for general user programs across the partnership.  Such opportunities would be announced as part of the 2013B call for proposals, in February 2013.   

Speckle image reconstruction of Pluto and Charon at 692 nanometers, observed with the Gemini North Telescope and the Differential Speckle Survey Instrument, yields a resolution of about 20 milliarcseconds average. The field shown here is 1.39 arcseconds across.  Credit: Gemini Observatory/NSF/NASA/AURA

Healthy response with GeMS/GSAOI System Verification proposals

Thanks to the science users who submitted 28 proposals requesting 138 hours of time for System Verification (SV) of the Gemini Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics System with the Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager (GeMS/GSAOI).  The proposals are being reviewed now, for observations in December and January.  We look forward to a successful SV, to be followed by shared risk early science programs, which will be part of the regular 2013A semester's programs.

Viaje al Universo 2012

Gemini led the annual Viaje al Universo program, bringing a week of educational talks and workshops to schools around Gemini South, in the Elqui Valley, La Serena, and Coquimbo, Chile.  See more photos at Gemini or on the Gemini Facebook page, or video with the latest Gemini Youtube entry.

A rocket-building and -launching workshop during Viaje al Universo 2012.