Gemini e-newscast #46

by xzhangIn this release:
Gemini South Shutdown Complete
2013B Proposal Submissions
GPI Update
FLAMINGOS-2 Update
GRACES Update
STAC Meeting April 22-23
Chad Trujillo Appointed to Head of Adaptive Optics
GeminiFocus, Now Quarterly and Electronic


Gemini South Shutdown Complete

The brief Gemini South shutdown has concluded. It was required to replace some essential elements of the secondary mirror control system that were failing. (These parts had previously been replaced on Gemini North.) The work was challenging due to the loss of commercial power on the summit, although additional maintenance and repair tasks were also completed. Gemini South returned to regular science observations on April 6 and commercial power resumed on April 9.

Gemini staff working on the secondary mirror at Cerro Pachón.

2013B Proposal Submissions

The response to the 2013B call for proposals was good, with many partner astronomers looking to take advantage of the new capabilities offered this semester.  26% of the requests at Gemini South were for FLAMINGOS-2, making it the third-most-requested instrument overall (after GMOS-S and GMOS-N). GSAOI was requested for 14% of the Gemini South time, oversubscribed by a factor of 2, given the limited amount of laser time available for the semester.  The Gemini North visiting instruments, DSSI and TEXES, are also highly subscribed for their availability, at factors of 2 and 3, respectively.  The requests for the other facility instruments at Gemini North are well-distributed.  The total request from the Subaru community was high, at 20 nights, which we expect will contribute to developing this exchange program as a robust resource for the Gemini community.

Distribution of time request by instrument in 2013B telescope proposals.

GPI Update

The Gemini Planet Imager is in the middle of a three-month period of acceptance testing at the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics at the University of California Santa Cruz. As of April 5, 48 of 78 tests were completed, and many of these are passed. The cold testing is starting now, and the results will be reviewed in June, for approval before shipping to Chile.

GPI undergoing flexure testing at the University of California Santa Cruz.

FLAMINGOS-2 Update

FLAMINGOS-2 is currently undergoing what is expected to be the last thermal cycle before mounting onto the Gemini South telescope, which is planned for the end of April. This lab work should correct some charge traps that arose during an uncontrolled cooldown of the detector and correct stalling of the MOS wheel mechanism. Regular updates can be found on the Status and Availability page.

Gabriel Pérez works on FLAMINGOS-2 in the instrument lab at Cerro Pachón.

GRACES Update

The Gemini Remote Access to CFHT ESPaDOnS Spectrograph (GRACES) project will bring high spectral resolution optical spectroscopy to Gemini via a fiber connecting the Gemini North telescope to ESPaDOnS, an existing spectrograph at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. A recent milestone is achieving good performance (focal ratio degradation less than 5%) after polishing the ends of short fiber segments. An important future step is to test the performance over the full 270-meter fiber length. The remaining hardware is expected to arrive at Mauna Kea for integration in the middle of 2013, with on-sky commissioning toward the end of the year.

STAC Meeting - April 22-23

The Gemini Science and Technology Advisory Committee, which advises the Gemini Board on matters of long-range scientific and technical importance, will meet in Tucson, Arizona, April 22–23. The committee’s composition has been adjusted to reflect the current partnership, with new members Debra Fischer (Yale University), Donald Gavel (University of California, Santa Cruz), and Paul Martini (Ohio State University) joining. Information about the STAC and reports on their work are posted at the Gemini website.

Chad Trujillo Appointed to Head of Adaptive Optics

As of April 1, Astronomer Chad Trujillo has taken the role of Head of Adaptive Optics at Gemini. He will lead the ongoing AO efforts at both sites, including Altair, GeMS/GSAOI, and soon GPI, to be productive facilities. Chad will assume the important task of leading future developments to maintain competitiveness in AO. Congratulations, Chad, on your new position!

A panorama picture of Mauna Kea summit after snow. Credit: Chad Trujillo.

GeminiFocus, Now Quarterly and Electronic

The Gemini Observatory newsletter, GeminiFocus, is now quarterly and available as both a downloadable PDF and in an on-line e-reader format compatible with desktop browsers, tablets, e-readers, and smart phones. Visit www.gemini.edu/geminifocus and click on the cover image for the latest e-reader version, or follow the text link for PDF. We hope the new format will provide you with more timely information while saving significant resources. If you are not already on the list to be notified of future issues, please contact us.