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NOAO Newsletter - Director's Office - March 2000 - Number 61


Partnering Opportunities Sought for Wide-Field Infrared Imaging Capability

Ron Probst and Richard Green

Wide-field, moderate-resolution infrared imaging on 2-4 m class telescopes has been identified as a crucial need for the US community of Gemini users. Such a capability is also a natural extension of both advances in IR sensor technology and current research programs involving moderately deep survey-mode imaging. NOAO is enthusiastic about offering this capability to the US community. We have developed an instrument concept that provides one-quarter square degree of mosaiced field of view, at 1-2.4 m, on the 4-m Mayall telescope (http://www.noao.edu/ets/newfirm). We are now seeking interested partners to bring this, or some similar concept, to reality.

We wish to put new instrumentation into the community's hands rapidly and have several candidates for development over the next few years. To achieve this goal with solely in-house technical resources would require that we focus on only one of these candidates. We also wish to develop major capabilities through community-based partnerships, a goal encouraged by the NOAO Users Committee. There appears to be real promise in the development of wide-field IR imaging through partnering because of demonstrated community expertise as well as shared scientific goals.

NOAO contributions to an instrumentation partnership could include an optical design, IR detectors, a multi-detector array controller, access to wide-field 4-m and 2.1-m telescopes at Kitt Peak, and timeshares in complementary instruments such as the wide-field, multi-slit spectrometer Next Generation Optical Spectrograph presently under development (http://www.noao.edu/ets/optspect/). Partner contributions might range from cash and technical resources as a buy-in to an NOAO instrument, to taking the lead in design and fabrication of a shared instrument, to substantial public access to a comparable instrument at some other facility, or to time trades between a wide-field IR imaging capability and NOAO instruments such as NGOS. NOAO's contribution will depend in part on partner wants and needs. We are open to creative ideas.

We intend to organize a short workshop in Tucson in April for seriously interested potential partners. We shall explore the science drivers behind this instrumental need, including the possibilities for large-scale collaborative programs, technical alternatives for wide-field IR imaging, and programmatic means for realizing this exciting capability. Our goal is to create a consortium that will move rapidly ahead to instrument construction.

The workshop will be limited to those who respond in a timely way to this solicitation. For further information and to indicate your interest, please contact Ron Probst (rprobst@noao.edu) or Richard Green (rgreen@noao.edu) by 15 March 2000.


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