R. Schommer and C. Pilachowski
The US Gemini Science Advisory Committee, which advises the US Gemini Program on issues related to the Gemini Observatory, met at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Pasadena in May. The primary issues for discussion included a review of NOAO's allocation process for Gemini telescope time and plans for Gemini instrumentation.
The US SAC offered congratulations to the Inter-national Gemini Observatory on the upcoming start of scientific observing. Committee member Suzanne Hawley writes, "We were very pleased to see the large number of excellent US Demo Science and QuickStart proposals for Gemini time during this first shared-risk semester. The community is clearly very interested in using the Gemini telescopes early and often! The proposal response is especially gratifying for those working behind the scenes to get the telescopes up and running with visitor instruments as early as possible."
The SAC urged NOAO to continue its efforts to provide a level of Gemini investigator support consistent with the quality of service that NOAO already provides to users of its other facilities. The SAC wished particularly to see improvement in the documentation for observers, including instrument calibration requirements; definition of standard, recommended calibration procedures; and a grid of calibration stars for AO instruments. It is understood that documentation on instrument performance will improve as experience is gained.
Concerning instrumentation, the US SAC found that the ongoing instrumentation program offers compelling and exciting scientific opportunities to the Gemini community. This program comprises the instruments under construction (NIRI, GNIRS, GMOS, Michelle, HROS, T-ReCS, and NICI), as well as visitor instruments and proposed instruments such as a wide-field, IR, multi-object spectrograph MOS, and a high-stability laboratory spectrograph. The SAC urged continued support for this suite of instruments as the highest priority of the Gemini instrumentation program, both to allow productive use of telescope time and to establish a broad-based user community for Gemini.
The SAC also reviewed Gemini plans for a Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics (MCAO) system, which would provide adaptive optics correction with stable point-spread functions over fields of view on the order of 1´. Such a system would provide exciting scientific opportunities for the US community. The US Gemini SAC encouraged the Gemini Observatory to convene a science workshop to consider the MCAO science capabilities and instruments, with wide input from all Gemini communities. (This international workshop will be held in October, jointly with the Center for Adaptive Optics.)
There was also sentiment among the US SAC that a workshop should be held on the role of Gemini in the next decade. With the recent release of the US, Canadian, and Australian decadal reviews, and the coming and current satellite (Chandra, SIRFT, MAP) and millimeter wavelength facilities (e.g., ALMA), the possible strategy for 8-m and larger telescopes in the next decade, both for AO and for wide-field survey science, has become a significant topic.
Finally, we wish to convey our thanks to both Suzanne Hawley and Buell Jannuzi, who are rotating off the US Gemini SAC after several years of service. We are grateful to them, for the US community has gained much from their wisdom and commitment to Gemini. We also welcome Bob Williams, a new member of the US Gemini SAC. The full membership of the US Gemini SAC can be found at http://www.noao.edu/usgp/org/ussac.html.
|Caption: US SAC members Robert Joseph (Hawaii), Larry Ramsey (Penn State), and Suzanne Hawley (Washington) continue discussions during lunch in Pasadena.|