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SCORPIO

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Latest News

August 2018
  • Looking ahead: an Optical Design Review will take place in November 2018.
  • A Quarterly Project Review takes place 27-29 August at George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, DC.
July 2018
  • An Optics Peer Review is held on 31 July in Madrid, Spain. 
  • SCORPIO is featured in the July 2018 edition of GeminiFocus Magazine
June 2018
  • OCTOCAM has a new name: SCORPIO which stands for Spectrograph and Camera for Observations of Rapid Phenomena in the Infrared and Optical. More information provided here.
May 2018
  • OCTOCAM start the Critical Design Stage of instrument build.
April 2018
  • The Preliminary Design Review is held 4-5 April at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas. ​The review panel consists of 8 external evaluators (plus 2 observers) who spend two days reviewing the OCTOCAM preliminary design
March 2018
  • Gemini announces Dr. Massimo Robberto of Space Telescope Research Institute (StSCI) as the new OCTOCAM Principal Investigator (PI). More information provided here
January 2018
  • Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) appoint Todd Veach as the new OCTOCAM Instrument Scientist. 
  • A Quarterly Project Review takes place 15-17 January in two locations: at FRACTAL in Madrid, Spain and at George Washington University, USA. 
  • OCTOCAM is featured in the January 2018 edition of GeminiFocus Magazine.
December 2017
  • Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and the Gemini Observatory appoints Dr. Alexander van der Horst of George Washington University as the Interim Principal Investigator (PI). More information provided here. 
November 2017
  • The Preliminary Design Kickoff meeting is held on 17 October and project members from Southwest Research Institute, Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia (IAA) and Gemini meet at SwRI in San Antonio, Texas. This meeting is accompanied by a number of technical meetings.  
October 2017
August 2017 
  • The OCTOCAM team meet for the Conceptual Design Review the first week of August. During the week, there are various meetings to help the team understand the nature of Gemini observing, and familiarize themselves with engineering and technical aspects of the telescope. The review panel is made up of 5 external evaluators who spend two days with both the Gemini team and the OCTOCAM team reviewing the OCTOCAM conceptual design. 
July 2017
April 2017 
  • The Conceptual Design Kickoff takes place on 19 April at Instituto de Astrofisica de Andalucia (IAA) in Granada, Spain.
  • OCTOCAM is featured in the April 2017 edition of GeminiFocus Magazine.
March 2017 
  • A contract between AURA and the Southwest Research Institute is signed on March 6th. Gen4#3 is now officially OCTOCAM.

The SCORPIO story

In 2015 based on the Gemini Instrumentation Feasibility Studies, Gemini assembled an independent Gen 4#3 Steering Committee to help guide the Observatory with the Gen 4#3 project. The committee produced a Science Assessment Report and Technical & Cost Assessment Report.

The reports summarized, compared, and contrasted aspects of the independent GIFS studies assessing the combined science-capability-cost trade space. Following STAC recommendations and Board resolutions, the Gen 4#3 Steering Committee made recommendations to the Observatory regarding drivers, requirements, and clauses relevant to the Gen 4#3 design and build contract.

Gemini considered the Gen 4#3 Steering Committee recommendation report, public community comments and feedback, financial constraints, time constraints, technical/interface constraints, Board resolutions, and STAC recommendations and released an RFP in May 2016. Evaluation and selection progressed through the fall of 2016 resulting in the awarding of a contract to the Southwest Research Institute. 

What is SCORPIO? 

SCORPIO is an 8-channel imager and spectrograph that will simultaneously observe the g, r, i, z, Y, J, H, and KS bands in a square field-of-view of 3'x3', or a circular one with a diameter of 4.24'. It will obtain long slit (3' long) spectroscopy with a resolution of R ~ 4,000, simultaneously covering the range between 0.37-2.35 microns. 

The eight independent arms in SCORPIO allow the user to adjust exposure times in each bandpass for increased efficiency and the best match to observing conditions. By using state of the art detectors - frame transfer in the optical and CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) in the near infrared - SCORPIO will have negligible readout times enabling high time-resolution observations.  

SCORPIO Science Cases

A capable instrument for extremely broad-band observations (both in imaging and long-slit spectroscopy), SCORPIO will deliver groundbreaking scientific output over a very broad range of topics that cover fields as diverse as trans-Neptunian objects and centaurs in the Solar System, exo- planets, neutron stars, X-ray binaries, active galactic nuclei, supernovae, tidal disruption events, and gamma-ray bursts.

SCORPIO's multi-wavelength spectroscopy (and the possibility for simultaneous multi- band imaging) makes it the optimal machine for the efficient characterization of astronomical transients - similar to those expected to be discovered in the 2020s by LSST, which promises to play a leading role in advancing our understanding of these objects identified through their explosive variability. The availability of high time-resolution, coupled with Gemini's rapid response capability, will also allow researchers to use SCORPIO to catch transient objects in their earliest phases and monitor their rapid evolution. SCORPIO researchers will be able to use gamma-ray bursts to explore the earliest star formation events in the Universe. It will also be ideal for following up and characterizing kilonova signatures of neutron star mergers, and likely counterparts of gravitational wave sources.

SCORPIO Instrument Design

Each of SCORPIO's eight arms is an imaging spectrograph, based on the use of high- efficiency dichroics to split the light. The light arriving from the telescope first goes through an atmospheric dispersion corrector (ADC) that compensates for atmospheric chromatic aberrations. The light then enters the NIR cryogenic chamber, where it reaches the focal plane unit. After the focal plane, the light is divided by the first dichroic into NIR and Visible (VIS) light. The VIS light then leaves the cryogenic chamber through a second window to the VIS bench which is approximately at the same temperature as the telescope. From there, the light of both beams follow similar paths, where the light is collimated and subsequently split by additional dichroics. The collimated beam of each arm passes through either a filter or grism, depending on the observing mode, and is refocused by a camera onto the detector. 

The SCORPIO Team

  • Massimo Robberto, StSCI, Principal Investigator
  • Alexander van der Horst, GWU, Project Scientist
  • Pete Roming, SwRI, Project Manager

The Gemini Team 

  • Stephen Goodsell, Project Manager
  • Manuel Lazo, Systems Engineer
  • Ruben Diaz, Instrument Scientist
  • Morten Andersen, Project Scientist
  • Andrea Blank, Project Support
  • Karen Godzyk, Contracts Officer
  • Scot Kleinman, Project Sponsor

Gemini Observatory Participants