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Announcement of Opportunity for RFP No.N251227

Wide Field Fiber Multi-Object Spectrograph (WFMOS) Conceptual Design Study

Gemini Observatory
Issued: 24 August 2005
Requests to Receive RFP Due: 23 September 2005

The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (“AURA”), acting as the operator of the Gemini Observatory, intends to solicit proposals to conduct Conceptual Design studies for a Wide-field Fiber Multi-Object Spectrograph (WFMOS). The instrument is intended to be developed collaboratively by the Gemini and Subaru Observatories. It is to be deployed on the Subaru telescope for the shared use of both astronomical communities. A Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued by AURA in September to institutions that submit a request to receive the RFP by the date given above. Requests to receive the RFP should be sent by email to Andrew Flach, Gemini Contracts Manager, at, and should reference “N251227” in the subject line. In the body of the email please give the name of your institution and the contact information (name, email, street address, and telephone) for the person who will serve as your single point of contact for this procurement along with the partner shares information described later in this announcement.

The RFP will seek proposals for conducting WFMOS Conceptual Design studies. The total funding available from Gemini for these Conceptual Design studies is USD 3,000,000, which includes funding for both direct and indirect (i.e., the equivalent of overheads) costs. Gemini hopes to use this funding to award two Conceptual Design study contracts so that there are competing teams. Subaru intends to provide an additional USD 1,000,000 which will be allocated separately by Subaru to fund telescope and facility studies specific to the Subaru telescope, the results of which will be made available to all the Conceptual Design study teams. It is anticipated that the studies will start in December 2005 and be completed by September 2006. The Conceptual Design studies will include optical, mechanical, electronic, software, and operational design elements, at the level needed to enter into a firm fixed-price contract to build such an instrument. A WFMOS Feasibility Study has recently been completed, the results of which are available here.

Funding to build WFMOS, subsequent to the completion of the Conceptual Design studies has not been secured yet within the Gemini Partnership. The final decision as to whether or not to build WFMOS will not be made until the results of this Conceptual Design study are evaluated and funding options for all proposed new Gemini instrumentation are better defined. In addition an agreement for the joint operation of WFMOS on Subaru must be finalized and funding from Subaru secured before a decision to proceed with WFMOS construction is made.

WFMOS Description

WFMOS is expected to provide spectroscopic observations of ~4500 targets simultaneously across a 1.5-degree field of view. The basic instrument concept relies on the use of a prime focus array of remotely positioned fibers that feed a large bank of spectrometers located off the telescope. This prime focus concept is driven by constraints of the existing top end of the Subaru telescope and the need to use common wide-field corrector elements for both WFMOS and HyperSuprime Cam (a separate wide-field imager being proposed by Subaru; see below). The Conceptual Design teams will need to work closely with both the Gemini and Subaru staff members to address key optical, mechanical, and control system interfaces, develop operational concepts, etc.

The preliminary baseline performance requirements for WFMOS on Subaru include:

  • Wavelength Range: 0.39 – 1.0 µm
  • Field of View: 1.5 deg
  • Spatial Sampling: 1 arcsec fiber entrance
  • Spectral Resolution: R = 1800 − 3500 (3000 fibers) and R = 40,000 (1500 fibers)
  • Simultaneous wavelength coverage: 0.39 – 1.0 µm (low resolution spectrographs), >100 Å (high resolution)
  • Simultaneous Targets: 4500
  • Detector operating modes: Standard readout or Nod and shuffle

Please note that these requirements may be modified or expanded in the actual RFP and are only meant to give a general idea of the scope of the work. Do not rely on the requirements stated in this announcement in performing any work. More details about the proposed instrument can be found in the WFMOS Feasibility Study Report (baseline Subaru design).

Teams interested in participating in Conceptual Design studies should give careful consideration to the two key science applications planned for WFMOS (the dark energy spectroscopic survey and the Galactic archaeology survey) to ensure that WFMOS as designed will meet these scientific goals. Given the enormous data sets that will be generated with such an instrument, WFMOS must be delivered with pipeline processing software as part of the overall instrument package. The design of this pipeline should be included as part of the Conceptual Design. Modifications of these study requirements based on scientific, technical, or cost considerations will be considered through the Conceptual Design study phase of the program.

In addition to making sure WMFOS can meet the scientific goals from a technical and performance perspective, the Conceptual Design team will be required to provide a detailed account of the scope, methodology, and cost of executing the two proposed key scientific programs. This should include mechanisms to assure equitable scientific return to the partners as well as approaches to maximize the involvement of the best scientific talent of the Gemini and Subaru communities. The estimated cost of the proposed scientific programs must be provided separately to help develop long range plans for supporting WFMOS operationally.

HyperSuprime Description

HyperSuprime is a proposed next-generation wide field (2 degree) imager for Subaru. Detailed information about this instrument, which is in a comparable state of development as WFMOS, can be found here . A key science objective for this instrument is to conduct a weak lensing survey, which requires excellent image quality that in general exceeds that needed to feed a fiber spectrometer like WFMOS. Optical designs for the wide field corrector needed for WFMOS must therefore also satisfy HyperSuprime requirements, in order to enable the synergies planned for these two instruments. An example of such an optical design is available in the WFMOS feasibility study report. HyperSuprime is being designed by Subaru and, given the common wide field corrector and top-end planned for this instrument and WFMOS, close coordination with the HyperSuprime team will be needed on matters pertaining to common opto-mechanical components.

Partner Share Requirements for the Conceptual Design Studies

Conceptual design study teams must describe in their request for the RFP how the nominal distribution of work across their teams satisfies the allocation of Gemini Instrument Development Funds according to Partner shares across the Gemini consortium. For the remaining parts of the Aspen program the approximate funding allocations for each member country are listed below.

Country Remaining Shares within Aspen Program (USD)
United Kingdom19,000,000

In general this means the majority of the Gemini funds spent on WFMOS should target US and UK institutions. It is important to note that there are no partner share restrictions on Subaru funds for WFMOS and Gemini and Subaru expect to equally share the cost of building WFMOS.

Any National Gemini Office (NGO), collaboration of NGOs, institution, or company within any Gemini Partner country is entitled to propose to perform a Conceptual Design Study for WFMOS. Interested teams should not begin work on their proposals until they have received the actual Request for Proposal document, which contains specific instructions regarding the content and format of proposals.

Gemini Observatory Participants