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NOAO Newsletter - US Gemini Program - June 2000 - Number 62


US Gemini Instrumentation Program Update

Taft Armandroff and Mark Trueblood

Numerous activities are being conducted by USGP to help instrument the Gemini telescopes, both in-house at NOAO and in the wider community. This article gives a snapshot of their status as of late April.

NIRI is a 1-5 µm imager with three pixel scales. NIRI has been undergoing a series of cold cycles to carry out tests and check fixes to problems discovered in previous tests. NIRI began its sixth cold cycle in mid-April and is expected to be cold by the deadline for this article. During the fifth cooldown, solutions to several previous problems were verified, but the test was interrupted when the science array controller stopped producing images. An anomaly inside the dewar was subsequently discovered and fixed, and the controller then began producing images. The next cold cycle was then begun and is expected to allow further testing and diagnostics by Klaus Hodapp (PI, Hawaii) and the NIRI Team.

Caption: NIRI, the 1-5 µm Near-Infrared Imager built by U. Hawaii, will soon be available on the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea. The instrument is designed with a 1024x1024-pixel InSb array and cameras to offer three spatial scales.

T-Recs, the thermal Region Camera and Spectrograph, is a mid-infrared imager and spectrograph for the Gemini South telescope, which is under construction at U. Florida by Charlie Telesco and his team. This 8-26 µm instrument passed its CDR in July 1999 and is far along in parts fabrication and procurement. The team is on schedule for commissioning in June 2001.

GNIRS, the Gemini Near-Infrared Spectrograph, is a long-slit spectrometer for the Gemini North telescope that will operate from 1 to 5 µm and will offer two plate scales and a range of dispersions. Following the Restart Review in July 1999, three-dimensional design and engineering analysis activities have been progressing well. Prototype testing is also being done as part of the overall risk-reduction strategy. Prototypes of motor drives and optics mounts have been fabricated and tested. Neil Gaughan (Project Manager), Jay Elias (Project Scientist), and their team will present the engineering results at a Pre-Fabrication Review to be held on May 11-12. After the successful completion of that review, mechanical fabrication will begin. A software plan has been written. Optics fabrication is proceeding on schedule. Delivery is planned for July 2002.

GMOS CCDs. For the two GMOS spectrographs, NOAO is responsible for the CCDs, CCD controllers, related software, and systems integration. The CCDs, controller, and related software for GMOS I for Gemini North were delivered in November 1999 and have passed their acceptance tests. Currently, the NOAO team, including Rich Reed, Tom Wolfe, and Richard Wolff, is testing CCDs for GMOS 2 for Gemini South.

NICI, the Near Infrared Coronagraphic Imager, is funded by monies from the NASA Origins Program. NICI will provide a 1-5 µm infrared coronagraphic imaging capability on the Gemini South telescope. Mauna Kea Infrared was the successful competitive bidder for the NICI conceptual design study and the only respondent to an RFP for building the instrument. A conceptual design review of their concept for NICI, followed by a procurement review of their proposal, was conducted by a single committee, in Hilo, on April 18-19. The review committee, chaired by Chick Woodward (Wyoming), includes scientific, technical, and managerial expertise.

Flamingos 2 is a concept for a multi-object near-infrared imaging spectrograph for the Gemini South telescope that is being developed by Richard Elston and his team at U. Florida. The Flamingos 2 concept builds on the heritage of the Flamingos imaging spectrograph, which is currently in final assembly. Flamingos 2 has been developed in response to the "Gap Filler" opportunity for Gemini South, wherein the relatively rapid deployment of a near-infrared spectroscopic and imaging capability is sought. A conceptual design review of Flamingos 2 will be held on April 28. The results of this review will then be compared with those for a competing instrument, IRIS2G. If the IGPO decides to select Flamingos 2 for construction, the Florida team plans to commission Flamingos 2 on Gemini South in May 2003.

Phoenix, a high-resolution near-infrared spectrometer, has been in productive scientific use on the KPNO 4-m and 2.1-m telescopes. Phoenix yields spectra with resolution up to R = 70,000 in the wavelength range of 1-5 µm. Our intent is to make Phoenix available on the Gemini South telescope at the inception of scientific use of this telescope. Phoenix would be shared equally between Gemini South and CTIO/SOAR. An agreement between NOAO/USGP and IGPO that specifies the modification of Phoenix for Gemini and how the instrument will be supported and maintained is in the final stages of negotiation. Ken Hinkle will be the NOAO Instrument Support Scientist for Phoenix.


Next: Gemini Proposals: What's Next?
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