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Nightly Base Facility Operations at Gemini North!

January 21, 2016

Science Operations Specialist Michael Hoenig makes sure the telescope is operating smoothly from the Hilo Base Facility.

Scientist and project lead, Atsuko Nitta (colorful dress); Associate Director of Operations, Andy Adamson; and Director, Markus Kissler-Patig (left to right) congratulate staff for the success of BFO implementation, and their appreciation for the hard work that went into the BFO project at Gemini North.

Base Facility Operations (BFO) are now fully implemented for the Gemini North telescope. All operations are now routinely conducted each night from the Hilo Base Facility.

The implementation of BFO at Gemini North is the culmination of several years of work by most of Gemini's staff. This includes significant infrastructure improvements at the telescope and base facilities, software upgrades, staff training, and changes at all levels of operations. The result is a milestone that has revolutionized the way Gemini operates and acquires data.

Observing crews at Gemini North have been testing the BFO mode since September of 2015. The night crews report that observing is much more efficient in this mode, and the science staff were thrilled to see the system go live from Hilo as our standard operations model.

Gemini's Director Markus Kissler-Patig adds that in addition to this being a first for an 8-10 meter-class telescope, Gemini is also integrating the use of visitor instruments into BFO operations. "The recent visit of the Differential Speckle Survey Instrument (DSSI) produced a record number of observations when it observed up to 130 targets per night during its run operated remotely! This bodes well for the remarkable efficiency we can achieve with Base Facility Operations." 

Based on the experience at Gemini North, Gemini South is now preparing for a similar switch to BFO by the end of this year.

For more details on Gemini's switch to BFO see the post on our public blog.