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Looking Ahead: Gemini’s Partnership Beyond 2015

December 7, 2012

Despite a challenging global economic climate, and often drastic funding cuts in government-funded science and technology research, a recent milestone for the Gemini Observatory sees the observatory moving forward until the end of this decade with its strong international partnership intact. However, a potential challenge lies ahead with funding uncertainty in Australia after 2015 says Gemini’s newly appointed Director Dr. Markus Kissler-Patig. “Although this might present an obstacle, it’s one with many possible solutions even if Australia cannot remain a full partner in Gemini,” said Kissler-Patig.

It is in this environment that in September 2012 the Gemini Board held a retreat to discuss among other items the future of the Gemini partnership in the years 2016 to 2018, beyond the current international agreement - which extends through the end of 2015. Following this retreat, Gemini’s regularly-scheduled Board meeting, held in La Serena, Chile from November 14 to 16 resulted in the following resolutions:

2012.B.1. The Board has executed an Assessment Point in accordance with Article 4 of the International Gemini Agreement. At this Assessment Point, all the Parties except Australia have stated their intentions to remain in the Partnership post-2015. The position of Australia at this time is that it cannot commit funding for the Observatory post-2015, but expresses a desire to remain engaged in Gemini for access to the telescope in a non-party status.

2012.B.2. The Board will work with the Executive Agency to seek potential new Parties.”

“The Gemini Observatory is delighted that the US, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina renewed their commitments,” said Kissler-Patig. “We hope that Australia can remain as actively involved in the future of the observatory as it has since its early days. Australia has been a strong partner in Gemini, in particular by delivering state-of-the-art instrumentation for our telescopes. Its research community published some of Gemini’s forefront science and we very much hope that they will continue doing so.” Kissler-Patig adds that if Australia cannot continue funding its involvement with Gemini, and if no partner is interested in increasing its current share, the observatory would welcome the addition of members that would contribute to the expansion of its scientific community and to the cultural diversity of the observatory - two key aspects of Gemini’s success.