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Technical Assessments


Technical Assessments of Proposals

This page is intended to be a brief guide for staff at the National Gemini Offices (NGOs) when they are technically assessing proposals at the Phase 1 stage. Additional information is given on each instrument's page (in the "Observation Preparation" area); these are designed to assist the Investigator when writing their proposal. The proposal should contain enough information to allow the assessor to judge whether the amount of time requested, with the instrument configuration and observing constraints requested, will allow the scientific goals to be achieved.

  • Target Coordinates

    Is the RA, dec for each science target available this semester and also for the instrument this semester (see the accessibility information in the semester's Call for Proposals.

  • Targets of Opportunity

    Target of Opportunity proposals must be identified as such in the Phase 1 Tool (PIT) xml file, and also whether it is rapid or standard. If the schedule for triggers is known please note this, for optimum filling of the queue. All proposals for Rapid Target of Opportunity (RToO) followup must submit a separate proposal for Standard Target of Opportunity followup (SToO) in conditions better than SB/CC/IQ=Any, if such followup is planned. Upgrades to good conditions will not be approved for RToO programs, and the SToO proposal is required if such conditions are necessary for later followup. Starting in 2012B, time in ToO programs that is not triggered will be charged to the partner (not the program) at the 50% level. Therefore time allocations to ToO programs should not be overly optimistic.

  • Instrument Configurations

    Is the instrument configuration appropriate for the science? For example:

    • Are the components (e.g. filter, grating) available?
    • Does the grating and slit combination provide the appropriate resolution?
    • Is the camera Field of View appropriate?
    • Has the correct readout mode been chosen?
    • Also, if this is an LGS observation then the Altair component must be selected in the PIT xml.
  • Instrument Overheads

    Are there additional overheads that need to be included? Such as:

    • GMOS MOS pre-imaging;
    • Separate skies for infrared observations;
    • Readout overheads e.g. GMOS nod & shuffle, thermal IR short exposures; see the "ITC, Sensitivity and Overheads" section in each of the instrument pages;
    • Non-standard calibrations, see the "Calibrations" section in each of the instrument pages.
  • Guide Stars

    Are appropriate guide stars available? This is especially important for AO work, for the small-field on-instrument WFS of the infrared instruments, and at high galactic latitudes or for example the Hubble Deep Field where guide stars will be scarce. Programs that use the P2 or P1 probe arms or the GMOS OI have a large field available and checking these guide stars at Phase 1 is not usually important. For more information, see the "Guiding Options" section in each of the instrument pages.

  • Exposure Time and Signal to Noise

    Are target flux levels given? If not, note this and that an assessment cannot be made. If fluxes are given, does the PI state that the exposure times have been confirmed using the Integration Time Calculator (ITC), for the selected observing conditions? If not, check the exposure times look sensible using the sensitivity tables given in the "ITC, Sensitivity and Overheads" section in each of the instrument pages.

  • Observing Conditions

    It is essential that the observing constraints are correct for achieving the science and for properly filling the queue.

    • LGS and GeMS programs require IQ70 CC50 or better, and dark or grey skies if the guide stars are faint (some GSAOI+GeMS observations can be carried out in IQ85 with degraded performance);
    • NGS-AO usually requires IQ70.
    • Thermal infrared usually requires WV50/80 and SBany;
    • optical observations usually require WVany and SB50/80.
    If any of these are not selected then check the proposal and correct as necessary. If CC80/any or IQany have been selected check that this is realistic and not an error. Note in your assessment any unusual observing constraints so that the TAC knows these have been confirmed.
  • Timing Constraints, Non-Standard Observations

    Please note in your assessment whether the observations are time-critical or have timing constraints. Also note if there is anything unusual about the planned observations, for example an infrequently used instrument mode, or unusual acquisition and guiding.

  • Classical Programs

    If this is a classical program that requires good observing conditions is there a backup program for poorer weather? If so is it feasible? If not please note that a backup plan is needed. If there is no backup program then the time will be used for queue observations if the conditions for the classical program are not met.