This page provides information on ideas and development plans for future operations changes at Gemini Observatory. It will provide a summary of ideas, links to documents, and opportunities for feedback.
OCS Upgrades Program
The Observatory Control System (OCS) is the high-level software used by the community to submit proposals and prepare observations and by Gemini staff to plan and execute observations. The current system has been in use for nearly 20 years and is showing its age. While many improvements have been made there are many requested features and usability improvements that cannot be implemented in the current system. Also, the software is very difficult to maintain. Therefore, we are undertaking a long-term program to substantially rewrite the OCS. The goals of this effort are to:
- Improve usability - e.g. make Phase 2 preparation much easier
- Improve efficiency - e.g. improve flexibility and reduce staff workload with an automated scheduler
- Support Time Domain Astronomy (TDA) - e.g. provide the software framework for the GEMMA scheduler and APIs
- Support new instruments - e.g. SCORPIO and GNAO/GNAOI
- Avoid obsolescence - e.g. make the code maintainable and scalable
Additional background was provided in an article in the October 2017 Gemini Focus.
Community input to this process has been via community surveys, helpdesk tickets, an OCS Upgrades Working Group in 2017/2018 that included members from the community, recommendations from the STAC TDA Advisory Group, and feedback collected at AAS and other meetings. Additional feedback and ideas are encouraged. Please send us comments using the Suggestion Form.
A fundamental project in this effort, the Gemini Program Platform (GPP), passed its Conceptual Design Review in October 2019. The review documentation also includes an overview of the entire program as well as the legacy system.
The top-level concepts and changes are as follows:
- Use scientific or physical descriptions whenever possible (e.g. entering wavelength range, spectral resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, and physical conditions on target rather than percentile bins)
- Valid, complete observations will be created by default but it will be possible for the user to customize them.
- It will be possible to define observations for Gemini North and South in the same program.
- Interfaces will be available as web applications, so no more downloading and updating large desktop applications.
- It will be built around and use the Integration Time Calculators for determining exposure times and signal-to-noise ratios
- Calibration steps will be generated automatically and the configurations will be kept in sync with the associated science observations.
The GPP had its Inception Review (akin to a final design) review in July 2020. The documentation presents mockups and descriptions of the main web applications and the underlying services. The technologies that will be used are also described. Construction of the system has now begun.
Recent news on Gemini operations software development and OCS Upgrades progress can be found at the Science Software Blog