The Aspen science report provides an abundance of background science material behind these questions and maps them into proposed new capabilities at Gemini needed to help answer them.
An Executive Summary of the Aspen science report is available now, and a final version of the entire science report will be available in early 2004.
Since the Aspen Workshop in June 2003, science, cost, programmatic, and technical issues for the potential new instrumentation that emerged from the Workshop were discussed during the October 2003 Gemini Science Committee (GSC) meeting. The GSC in turn recommended a core instrument set, from among the variety identified in Aspen, to the Gemini Director and Board for consideration during the November 2003 Board meeting. The output of that meeting, which is consistent with the recommendation made by the GSC, is reflected in the instrument set summarized below. This instrument set, with a total estimated cost of ~$70M, will enable the most broadly supported science missions discussed in Aspen, and represents an impressive array of new capabilities for our Community.
In order to meet the scientific aspirations of our Community, as expressed through the Aspen Process, the GSC and Gemini Board recommended instrumentation development on multiple fronts. To quote directly from the Board:
"The Board endorses with enthusiasm the staged approach the Observatory has outlined for realizing the recommendations of future instrumentation formulated by the GSC. Specifically, the Board urges the Observatory to proceed as soon as possible with design studies for the Extreme AO Coronagraph and the High Resolution NIR spectrometer according to the schedule proposed by Observatory staff.
The Board also encourages the Observatory to launch feasibility studies for the Wide Field Fiber-fed Optical MOS and the Ground Layer AO system, consistent with the GSC's recommendation. The Board notes that the GSC differentiated between these two instrument concepts in terms of scientific priority, suggesting that the scientific goals of the WFMOS are potentially more extensive. In view of the broad context of the scientific evolution of the observatory, and considering the considerable technical risks, the Board agrees that the scientific and technical feasibilities of both instruments need to be more thoroughly demonstrated. The Board further requests that more than one feasibility study be carried out for each instrument concept. The Board urges the Director to identify and utilize the resources necessary to enable an in-house systems evaluation of both instruments and of all submitted feasibility studies."
As a result the Observatory is now starting design studies for:
In addition, the Observatory is beginning feasibility studies for:
Additional information about the relative scientific rankings of the instruments listed above and other components of Gemini's new development program are available as well.
Basic performance requirements for these instruments are summarized below.
Range: 0.9 - 2.5 µm
of View: ~3 arcsec
Sampling: 0.02" IFU sampling or 0.01" imaging
Resolution: R ~ 300 for IFU option and R ~ 100 for imaging option
wavelength coverage: J, H, or K
Comments: The use of either an IFU or direct multi-band imaging (e.g., dual channel) should be among the design options considered. A contrast ratio of ~107 within a 0.1-1.5" radius of the central target is needed to meet this instrument's science objectives. The instrument should also include a polarimetry mode, noting the availability of the facility polarization unit GPOL for design study purposes.
Range: 1.1 - 5.0 µm
of View: 2 arcmin (MOS mode)
Sampling: 0.2" pixels (seeing limited mode) or 0.05" pixels (MCAO-MOS mode)
Resolution: 70,000 (single slit) and 30,000 (MOS)
Spectrometer includes a polarimetry mode, noting the availability
of the facility polarization unit GPOL for design
study purposes. Also includes an absorption cell to be used as a precision
wavelength fiducial in the R~70,000 mode.
Range: 0.39 -1.0 µm
of View: ~1.5 deg
Sampling: ~1 arcsec fiber entrance
Resolution: R ~ 1000 - 30,000
wavelength coverage: 0.4 µm (lowest resolution mode)
stellar targets: 4000-5000
Fiber fed prime focus instrument capable of enormous multiplex
gains by independently positioning fibers across a large prime focus field
on Gemini. Similar to the KAOS concept.
Wavelength Range: system transmits a corrected beam from ~0.6 2.5 µm
Field of View: ~10 arcmin diameter
Delivered PSF FWHM: ~0.2 arcsec, J-band, V = 0.5" seeing. If modeling by study teams indicates this specification is not feasible (e.g. because of the vertical distribution of turbulence), the emphasis on the design should be put on system field of view instead of angular resolution.
PSF FWHM Uniformity: ~10 mas rms across 10 arcmin field of view, J-band, for V = 0.5" seeing
Comments: Particular points to be addressed in this study include:
with the above summary of new instruments, Announcements of Opportunities
are available now for the following development work:
General information about how instruments
are developed within Gemini's instrument program is available and prospective
instrument builders are encouraged to review this information as part of
the process of determining if they would like to participate. We expect to
fund a total of 8 studies, two for each of the instruments identified above.
The intent of the design studies is to develop the instrument concepts
to the point that firm fixed price contracts to fabricate them can be pursued.
These will be formally competed against 2 teams for the coronagraph and NIR
spectrometer. The intent of the feasibility studies is to establish
(1) the technical feasibility of the instruments, (2) develop telescope impact
assessments, (3) refine cost estimates, and (4) verify the science case for
these instruments (e.g., through additional modeling). This extra step in
the development of the Wide Field Fiber Fed Optical MOS and GLAO system is
felt necessary, given the anticipated high costs and risks associated with
these instruments. All of this activity is planned to provide the Observatory,
around the end of 2004, with much better cost and performance estimates than
are available now, which is key information needed before final commitments
can be made to build any of these instruments.
Instrument teams interested in submitting a proposal for one or more of the design and feasibility studies mentioned above should send a Letter of Intent to Gemini's contract manager, Andy Flach, by 15 January 2004. Requests for Proposals (RfP) will be sent to any instrument builder that submits a Letter of Intent, which will include detailed instructions for submitting a proposal to Gemini to conduct design or feasibility studies. Interested teams should not work on proposals until receiving specific instructions through the RfPs and should not submit proposals in response to this Announcement of Opportunity.