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SV Call for Proposals

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The Gemini Near Infrared Spectrograph (GNIRS) is now installed in its new home on the Gemini North telescope and commissioning activities are well under way. Therefore, we invite the Gemini community to propose System Verification (SV) programs for GNIRS. Twelve nights of time are reserved for SV, nominally eight in semester 2010B and four in 2011A. Proposal submissions are due no later than MIDNIGHT, OCTOBER 25, 2010, Hawaii time (i.e., 1 minute after 11:59 p.m. on Oct 25).

System Verification is the final step of GNIRS testing prior to general use of the instrument by the Gemini community. It is intended to be "end-to-end" testing, verifying the readiness of the entire system from observation definition to data reduction (using the GNIRS IRAF data reduction package). It is also intended to exercise the various modes of the instrument and demonstrate to the community, through interesting and challenging science programs, the potential of the GNIRS instrument on Gemini North.

SV proposals will be evaluated by members of the GNIRS Science Team with input from the Gemini Science Committee. Recommended programs will be forwarded to the Gemini Director for approval. It is intended that the SV programs span a wide range of targets and types of observations. SV teams will be responsible for providing written, in depth assessments of SV observations and mode verification within two months of data acquisition. The data obtained during SV will be made available to the international Gemini community after a two-month proprietary period and the assessments of the PI's team will be published on the Gemini SV web pages. Community participation will help ensure that Gemini with GNIRS is a success from the first date of scheduled observations in Semester 2011A.

GNIRS is a versatile instrument with several observing configurations, including long slit spectroscopy from 1 to 5 microns and cross-dispersed spectroscopy from 0.9 to 2.5 microns. Each form of spectroscopy can be used with two pixel scales and a variety of slit widths, and thus a range of spectral resolutions. GNIRS also can be used without or with Adaptive Optics (AO), and the AO can be provided either by a Natural Guide Star (NGS) or the Laser Guide star (LGS). Note that LGSAO has more restrictive telescope elevation limits than other types of observations.

All GNIRS observing modes will be considered for SV time allocations. We have divided the GNIRS observation types into the eight categories listed in the table below and we expect that at least one program from each category will be selected. Please note that:

  • Not every combination of grating and wavelength region will be observed in SV.
  • The resolving powers in the table are those for the narrowest (2-pixel wide) slits, but wider slits (resulting in lower values of R) may be used.
  • Angular resolutions achievable with AO are currently limited to ~0.15 arcsec. Proposals that require either LGSAO or NGSAO should take this into account.
  • During the remainder of Semester 2010B we expect that GNIRS will be used to obtain data for high ranking 2010B NIRI spectroscopy programs that have been jeopardized by the recent mechanical problems with NIRI. As these largely involve non-AO spectroscopy in the 1-2.5 micron region at low resolution (categories 5 and 6 in the table), we anticipate that those configurations will be well used and we expect to allocate significantly less time to SV proposals seeking those kinds of data than to SV proposals requesting data in other categories.
  • With eight categories to be tested and twelve nights of queue time available, the average available time per category is ~18 hours in each of the categories 1 - 4, 7, and 8, and ~6 hours each in categories 5 and 6. This assumes 10 observable hours of science time per night, which may be optimistic. Proposals requesting considerably more than 6 hours of science time in either category 5 or 6, or considerably more than 18 hours of science time in any of the other categories, are likely to be rejected.

Category Long slit
or XDisp?
Pix Scale Waveband(s) Grating(s) Rmax NGSAO? LGSAO?
1 XD 0.05 0.9-2.5 µm 10 or 32 1800 or 6000 YES
2 LS 0.05 H or K 10, 32, or 111
1800, 6000, or 18,000 YES YES
3 LS 0.05
X, J, H, or K 111 18,000 NO NO
4 LS 0.05 L or M 111 18,000 or 12,000(M) NO NO
5 XD 0.15 0.9-2.5µm 32 or 111 1800 or 6000 NO NO
6 LS 0.15 X, J, H, or K 32 or 111 1800 or 6000 NO NO
7 LS 0.15 L or M 111 6000 or 4000(M) NO NO
8 LS 0.15 L 32 1,800 NO NO

It is expected that SV observations will take place between December 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011. Targets should have RAs between 23 hrs and 16 hrs (i.e., 23, 0, 1, ..., 16) and Declinations greater than -37 degrees. Programs will be selected to cover a variety of targets, wavelengths, and observing conditions. While we are interested in pushing GNIRS to its faintest limits, and we are hopeful for good weather, projects that can be done in CC70 (thin clouds) and IQ85 conditions (poor seeing) are also needed. For the long-slit observations, both point sources and extended objects, and both near-infrared (1-2.5µm) and thermal (3-5µm) observations are desired.

By submitting a SV program the proposers are agreeing to the following.

  • There is no guarantee that the program will be observed.
  • The PI will provide reduced data to Gemini for public release within two months of the completion of the SV program.
  • The proprietary period for SV data is two months.
  • Selection for SV is based in part on the abilities of the proposers to reduce the data and return feedback within a reasonable time. The proposers must include a statement as to their data reduction plans, e.g., in the technical section of the proposal. Proposers may use other data reduction tools in addition to the GNIRS package.

To submit a program, use the 2011A Phase I tool and include observing constraints, target lists, and instrument configuration information. Be sure to click the SV button on the "Submit" page. Submit the proposal BEFORE MIDNIGHT ON MONDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2010, HAWAII TIME.

Scientific justifications must be less than 1000 words and must clearly state which modes are being tested. The technical justification should be sufficiently complete within its 1000 word limit that that feasibility can be assessed easily.

PIs will be informed of the results of the selection process by November 10, 2010, and Phase II (using the Observing Tool) for selected programs will need to be completed by December 1. Gemini scientists will assist PIs in completing Phase II.

More information about GNIRS and its capabilities can be found in the GNIRS web pages, and in particular the gratings/cameras page and the ITC and the Sensitivity Table. Please feel free to contact us with questions or comments. We look forward to hearing from you and reading your proposals!


Tom Geballe and Rachel Mason
GNIRS Instrument Scientists
Gemini Observatory

Gemini Observatory Participants