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Semester 2006B Overview and Call for Proposals
Semester 2006B Overview and Call for Proposals
Proposals are invited for observations in semester 2006B (1 August 2006 - 31 January 2007) with Gemini North and Gemini South. Here we give an overview of the capabilities offered and other proposal guidelines and restrictions. New capabilities offered on Gemini North include Laser Guide Star adaptive optics (LGS AO) near-infrared imaging and spectroscopy with NIRI and NIFS, a visiting high-resolution (R=100,000) mid-infrared spectrograph (TEXES) and mid-infrared imaging polarimetry with the MICHELLE instrument. In addition, Gemini and Subaru have initiated a time exchange program that makes available prime-focus optical imaging using Suprime-Cam and wide-field near-infrared imaging using MOIRCS.
Please note that not all instruments are available for the whole semester; read carefully the information given below as well as the instrument availability tables. A separate Call for Proposals for system verification and demonstration science LGS programs using NIRI and NIFS will be issued shortly after the commissioning run in April, and there will be a specific call for system verification programs using NICI.
Proposal Deadlines, Process and New Items for Semester 2006B
Applications should be submitted via your national Gemini proposal process. The submission deadline varies very slightly from country to country, in the range 31 March - 3 April 2006 [US, UK, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile 31 March; Univ. Hawaii 3 April]. Specific details and requirements of the proposal process in each partner country can be found by following the links to National Gemini Office pages in the Phase I overview.
The assessment and ranking of proposals within each partner country will be via National Time Allocation Committees (NTACs) supported by the National Gemini Offices. Assembly of the 2006B schedule and queue, definition of scientific ranking bands and resolution of conflicts by the ITAC will follow the procedures described in the Phase I overview and the proposal process schedule. All data will be subject to the normal Gemini proprietary data period of 18 months. As in previous semesters the frequency of partner entries in the ITAC merging sequence is proportional to the advertised time available, better to take account of the various 'puts and takes' e.g. correction for aggregate imbalance in partner usage.
Some countries permit submitting a program that uses both telescopes, please check the National Gemini Office pages. In such cases the capabilities and time requested on each telescope must be stated clearly in the proposal. This is required because the National Gemini Offices will transmit separate XML files for Gemini North and Gemini South to Gemini Observatory for scheduling. Proposals may include the use of multiple instruments. If observations can be carried out with either GMOS (note that they have different capabilities) you must nevertheless specify one of them; the NTACs or ITAC may make changes.
Queue Rollover: the policy for rollover of highly-ranked queue programs will continue. Programs assigned by the ITAC into Band 1 are eligible for rollover into the next semester, for no more than two consecutive semesters, in order to increase the likelihood of program completion. Eligibility for rollover will be decided at the 2006B ITAC (for rollover into 2007A). Programs with rollover status assigned in 2005A will have reached their maximum continuation and will be removed from the queue; those from 2005B will automatically be carried forward, i.e. PIs need not re-apply if the currently approved allocation is sufficient to reach the science goals of the program. National policies that affect eligibility are defined by the relevant NTAC.
Electronic submission: all partners support electronic
submission of proposals from within the Gemini Phase I Tool (PIT). In
the US, submission of non-joint proposals (see below) using the NOAO
web form continues to be supported. A new version of PIT is available, including new
features such as "save as a PDF" file and support for the new
capabilities described below (see PIT Hot News; note that .ps
attachments are no longer supported). If re-using a previous
proposal, please read the joint proposal instructions on how to reset
the submission flag.
Joint Proposals: if you submit the same proposal to several partner countries (a "joint proposal") you must do so using PIT. The PIT software, and backend servers installed at each National Office, allow automatic ("one-click") submission of the same proposal to multiple partners. The partners have agreed a common format, length and submission deadlines for joint proposals. See the joint proposal instructions for more details including how to reset the submission status if re-using a (single or joint) proposal from previous semesters.
Quick Response and Target of Opportunity programs: we continue to encourage Quick Response programs, intended to allow observation of targets that cannot be specified in advance but which have a well-defined scientific aim and an external trigger, through the normal proposal process. The observing tools enable very rapid response times (5-15 minutes); an ultra-rapid ("immediate") response mode is under development and available to applicants. Quick Response observations are available with all facility instruments. The Director's Discretionary Time process supports observation of other (e.g. unexpected) events.
Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) programs: in semesters 2005B and 2006A many separate proposals for Gamma Ray Burst follow-up studies were submitted to the NTACs and a subset were forwarded to ITAC. As in those semesters, the ITAC and Observatory will seek to combine or otherwise substitute such proposals, e.g. by forming partnerships or time-division strategies, so that only one proposal is active on each telescope at any time. Applicants for GRB studies are strongly encouraged to coordinate their proposals before 2006B submission. The Observatory and ITAC reserve the right to form umbrella programs based on the proposals forwarded by the NTACs.
Time exchange (HIRES on Keck, MICHELLE on Gemini): five nights are again to be exchanged between Keck Observatory (for Gemini community use of HIRES, with a recently upgraded detector) and Gemini Observatory (for Keck community use of MICHELLE on Gemini North). Proposals must be for whole nights only. See below for the specific date ranges.
Time exchange (Suprime-Cam and MOIRCS on Subaru, both GMOSs and NIFS on Gemini): Gemini and Subaru observatories have initiated a time exchange program that is intended to be a long-standing arrangement. In this first phase, the Gemini community has access to 50 hours of queue time ("service" mode on Subaru) for imaging with Suprime-Cam and MOIRCS. Gemini applicants for time on Subaru should apply using the Gemini Phase I Tool (PIT) which has been modified for this purpose. Proposals will be technically assessed by staff at Subaru Observatory and scientifically assessed and ranked by the relevant Gemini TAC(s). See below (and the Subaru web pages) for more information on the Subaru instruments. While the observations will be conducted in service mode, it will be difficult to accomodate a large number of very short proposals. A minimum time request of 5 hours on Subaru is recommended. Proposals for Subaru community use of Gemini should follow the instructions given on the Subaru proposals web page; note that joint proposals between Japan and Gemini partners for use of Gemini are available using the existing joint proposal process. All questions from the Gemini community regarding use of Subaru should be made to Bernadette Rodgers (firstname.lastname@example.org).
TEXES proposals and instrument team collaboration: to maximize the scientific return given the limited (17-night block) availability of TEXES, we strongly encourage proposals for substantial allocations. All proposals to use TEXES must include at least one member of the instrument team as a collaborator. Please contact John Lacy (email@example.com), Dan Jaffe (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Matt Richter (email@example.com) for team member information.
GMOS Mask Definition: work continues to allow mask definition from non-GMOS images in 2006B. For the time being, MOS masks must be defined from GMOS images and sufficient pre-imaging time should be included in the proposal if the images do not exist already. For classical programs, pre-imaging will be scheduled in the queue. In such cases, classical time for MOS will not be scheduled in the first month of the semester, to allow enough time between pre-imaging and the classical run.
Poor weather proposals: often the queue contains insufficient proposals for the poorest conditions, despite the best efforts of the National TACs to pass on a balanced package of proposals to Gemini. To encourage submission of more proposals in this category, those with the following observing condition constraints will receive special consideration at the TACs and neither the PI nor partner country will be charged for any time used:
- Image Quality of "any" and Cloud Cover of 70%-ile or worse (non-photometric)
- Cloud Cover of 90%-ile (typically 2 magnitudes of cloud cover and unusable in the mid-IR) and any other combination of conditions
Note that Water Vapour constraints for all poor condition proposals need to be set to "any". The Sky Background constraint can be specified and it is acceptable for these programs to request dark time.
Instrument availability: with the arrival of NIFS and TEXES at Gemini North, and anticipated arrival of NICI and Flamingos-2 at Gemini South, the instrument ports on both telescopes are overfilled. Instrument swaps will be required for new instrument commissioning and science use and therefore one or more current instruments may not be fully available during the semester. Please read carefully the instrument and target availability tables which seek to balance Observatory scheduling priorities with the flexibility to respond to the requested target RA distributions. The allowed ranges combine possible instrument exchanges with best-guess schedules. Where possible we have tried to minimize the restrictions to applicants and thus it is possible that some targets or entire programs might prove not to be feasible when the final queue and classical schedule are assembled at ITAC or thereafter.
Future instrument availability: in semester 2006A the following instruments only barely or did not meet the 16-night minimum criterion to be mounted on the telescope: MICHELLE, T-ReCS, bHROS. If this situation persists in 2006B notice will be given that these instruments may not be available in future semesters. Phoenix currently occupies the "lightweight" or AO port on Gemini South; the facility Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics (MCAO) system will have priority on this port when installed early in 2007.
Gemini North: Instrument Availability
Instruments available in this semester are listed below. Note that there are restrictions on the scheduling and time available with certain instruments. New instruments and modes are offered on a shared-risks basis (see the definition of shared risks). Please see the target visibility tables for a summary of instrument availability.
See the relevant science instruments web pages for more detailed capabilities. Integration time calculators for all facility instruments are available as are imaging exposure time calculators for Suprime-Cam and MOIRCS provided by Subaru Observatory.
Gemini North: Operational Modes
For semester 2006B, all modes (except laser guide star AO) of NIRI, Altair, GMOS, Michelle and NIFS are offered in queue observing as well as classical observing modes. Laser guide star AO is only available in queue mode to be scheduled during 7-14n blocks. (Note that the classical observing mode has restrictions on visiting observers and a 3-night minimum run length, outside of special arrangements within individual partner countries, described on the classical observing web page). In addition, certain queue programs may be selected by the Gemini Director after the ITAC for classical observation by visiting observers; please indicate in the technical justification section of your proposal if this would be of interest.
"Quick Response" mode may be requested with any facility instrument. This mode allows observation of targets that cannot be specified in advance but which have a well-defined scientific aim and an external trigger. Examples might include distant supernova or gamma ray bursts. We aim for a response time of no more than 18-24hr in the general case and have implemented a process with very rapid response (5-15 minutes) for approved projects. Proposals for the Quick Response mode should be made via the normal proposal process and must summarise the trigger event (e.g. identification of a target brighter than a pre-determined threshold) in the proposal abstract. (See more details of the Quick Response process and activation mechanism).
The balance between instruments will be driven by scientific merit via the time allocation process. Any instrument must succeed in being awarded at least 160 hours (approx 16 nights) in order to be mounted on the telescope instrument support structure.
Time-specific (including periodic monitoring and follow-up) programs may be accepted on a best-efforts basis. Note that the instrument scheduling may impose additional restrictions on this class of programs.
All observations require the use of one wavefront sensor (WFS) star for fast guiding, primary mirror active optics control and/or as an adaptive optics wavefront reference source. The specific requirements for each instrument are given in the relevant science instrument web pages ("performance and use" section). As the technical feasibility of proposals relies in part on the availability of WFS stars, all proposals must include suitable WFS stars. Proposals concerned with non-sidereal objects should indicate the likely availability of WFS stars in the technical justification but are not required to supply specific stars.
Non-sidereal tracking is available for all instruments provided that the peripheral WFS is used (note however the caveats for using the peripheral wavefront sensors with GMOS). In general the on-instrument WFS cannot be used, other than over a very limited range of motion with GMOS.
For 2006B the declination range is -42 to +82deg (note that image quality degrades below 30 deg telescope elevation). No instrument changes will be allowed during classical nights. No other visitor instruments will be permitted.
Gemini North: Time Availability and Distribution
Few commissioning or other engineering activities are planned for semester 2006B and so a minimum of 90% of the time will be made available for science use. This fraction includes "Compensatory Time" to the UK in return for the long-term transfer of Michelle to Gemini, "Guaranteed Time" to the NIFS instrument team and Demonstration Science programs for NIFS and NIRI + LGS to be allocated out of Director's Discretionary Time.
The time available to the partner countries also depends on the allocation to Gemini staff (see an overview of the staff process); a fraction of 10% was assumed for this table. Estimates of the time for each partner are listed below:
(or Hours) Available
|US||56 nights (556 hours)|
|Univ. of Hawaii (host time)||14 nights (141 hours)|
|UK||39 nights (392 hours)|
|Canada||21 nights (214 hours)|
|Australia||7 nights (72 hours)|
|Argentina||3 nights (27 hours)|
|Brazil||1.5 nights (14 hours)|
To maintain overall balance amongst the partnership, these values have also been adjusted from the nominal partner shares as a result of the historical usage of time which in this instance has significantly reduced the allocations to US, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Univ. Hawaii, and increased those to UK and Canada. The exchange of 5 hours between Canada (+5hr on GN) and Brazil (+5hr on GS) is included. Weather and other losses are excluded from this table. The time available includes baseline calibrations on the sky which are assumed to be shared by all partners. The number of nights is obtained from int(hours/10).
Gemini South: Instrument Availability
Instruments available in this semester are listed below. New instruments and modes are offered on a shared-risks basis (see the definition of shared risks). Please see the target visibility tables for a summary of instrument availability.
See the relevant science instruments web pages for more detailed capabilities. Integration time calculators for GMOS South, GNIRS, T-ReCS and AcqCam are available as is a Phoenix calculator provided by the instrument team. (The bHROS calculator is not yet available; sensitivity tables are available on the bHROS pages).
NICI, the near-IR coronagraphic imager, is not available through the regular proposal process. A separate Call for Proposals for System Verification observations will be made later in 2006. NICI will be used for the first phase of a large, multi-year planet-finding campaign.
Gemini South: Operational Modes
For semester 2006B, all available modes of GMOS, T-ReCS, GNIRS and bHROS are offered in queue and classical observing modes. (Note the restrictions on visiting observers and the 3-night minimum classical run length, outside of special arrangements within individual partner countries, described on the classical observing web page). AcqCam is available in queue mode only. Phoenix is operated classically, with support from the US National Gemini Office. In addition, certain programs may be selected by the Gemini Director after the ITAC for classical observation by visiting observers; please indicate in the technical justification section of your proposal if this would be of interest.
Time-specific (including periodic monitoring and follow-up) programs with other instruments may be accepted on a best-efforts basis. Note that the instrument scheduling may impose additional restrictions on this class of programs.
All observations require the use of one wavefront sensor (WFS) star for fast guiding, primary mirror active optics control and/or as an adaptive optics wavefront reference source. The specific requirements for each instrument are given in the relevant science instrument web pages ("performance and use" section). As the technical feasibility of proposals relies in part on the availability of WFS stars, they must include suitable WFS stars. Proposals concerned with non-sidereal objects should indicate the likely availability of WFS stars in the technical justification. WFS stars are not required for quick-response proposals (but will be required to execute the observations).
For 2006B the declination range is -90 to +33deg (note that image quality degrades below 30 deg telescope elevation). No instrument changes will be allowed during classical nights. No other visitor instruments will be permitted.
Gemini South: Time Availability and Distribution
Due to the major instrument commissioning activities during this period, principally NICI, Flamingos-2 and GMOS-S CCDs, as well as other engineering work, in semester 2006B a minimum of 75% of the time will be made available for science use. This fraction includes time to the NICI Campaign Science program.
(or Hours) Available
|US||48 nights (475 hours)|
|Chile (host time)||14 nights (137 hours)|
|UK||23 nights (229 hours)|
|Canada||18 nights (176 hours)|
|Australia||13 nights (125 hours)|
|Argentina||2 nights (22 hours)|
|Brazil||2 nights (17 hours)|
To maintain overall balance amongst the partnership, these values have also been adjusted from the nominal partner shares as a result of the historical usage of time which in this instance has significantly reduced the allocations to US, Australia, Argentina and Brazil, and increased those to Chile, UK and Canada. Purchase of 8 nights from the UK by Australia, and the exchange of 5 hours between Canada (+5hr on GN) and Brazil (+5hr on GS) is included. Weather and other losses and visiting instrument payback are excluded from this table. The time available includes baseline calibrations on the sky which are assumed to be shared by all partners. The number of nights is obtained from int(hours/10).
Questions and Answers
Except where specifically noted above, all questions concerning proposals, or any other subject, should be made using the Gemini HelpDesk. This web-based system will send the request to your National Gemini Office staff in the first instance who will then escalate it to Gemini staff if necessary.
Last update February 28, 2006; Phil Puxley & Bernadette Rodgers