Gemini South staff Javier Fuentes and Joy Chavez conduct remote observations from the control room in La Serena, Chile.
On February 17th Gemini reached another significant milestone with the celebration of the official handover to Base Facility Operations (BFO) at Gemini South. It took more than 2 years to complete this important step and involved all departments from Gemini South.
About a year ago, Gemini North reached the same milestone, so now both Gemini telescopes operate routinely from the base facilities in La Serena, Chile and Hilo, Hawai‘i.
Atsuko Nitta, the BFO Project lead adds, ”... although we’ve been operating fully remotely at Gemini South since mid-November of last year, we have now signed off on all BFO work packages and it’s official – both Gemini telescopes are remotely operational!”
Atsuko also notes that this move has a profound impact on our nighttime operations (with no losses in data acquisition or on-sky observing efficiencies). The move to BFO also significantly improves our environmental stewardship mostly due to fewer trips up and down the mountains in both Chile and Hawai‘i.
For users of Gemini this change makes visiting Gemini easier and we hope that more users will consider visiting via our priority visitor mode as well as for Classical observing programs. PIs should also remember that our Bring-One, Get-One program for early-career astronomers is ideally suited to BFO.
“I’d like to congratulate all of our staff involved, which is everyone at Gemini!” adds Atsuko.
If you would like to tweet a toast to this milestone, click on the image below!