NOAO Currents

August 2009  •  Issue 9



New Gemini Instrument Survey

One of the top recommendations of the ALTAIR study was a call for an improved instrumentation suite at Gemini that is more responsive to the needs of the US community. As described in Currents, there is the possibility of a new instrument start for Gemini in 2010 that would address this issue.

The Gemini Science Committee is currently working to identify the capability that has the highest priority for a new start. Some top contenders are an optical echelle spectrograph (R ~ 40,000), an IR echelle spectrograph (R ~ 30,000; 1-5μm), and an intermediate resolution O/IR spectrograph that is similar to X-Shooter at the VLT (single object; R = 4000-14000; UV to K-band in one shot). Further information about X-Shooter is available from ESO.

A list of current Gemini instruments is available from Gemini. With the Gemini Board’s termination of the WFMOS Initiative, the Gemini Planet Imager is currently the only presently funded future instrument planned for Gemini, aside from the possibility of a new instrument start. Additional instruments will be considered in the coming years, with funding coming from a dedicated budget for instrument development as part of the normal 5-year Gemini funding profile.

Please complete the following survey regarding your views on this opportunity. Your views will be forwarded to the US members of the Gemini Science Committee as input to the Gemini instrumentation process. As always, time is of the essence.

Responses received by September 1 will be assured of consideration by the Gemini Science Committee. Please respond by this date.

First tell us about yourself:

1. Are you a

Graduate Student


More senior than that

2. Is your home institution in the US (or considered to be US-based)?



3. Is your institution a

college or university, non-PhD granting

research university, PhD granting

federally funded astronomy center (e.g., STScI, Spitzer Science Center, NOAO)

private observatory (e.g,. Carnegie, Lowell, SAO)

government laboratory (e.g.,LANL) or NASA research center



4. Have you previously proposed to use Gemini?



Now let us know what you think about a new instrument for Gemini:

5. If only one new start for a Gemini instrument is possible in 2010, which instrument should be given priority?

optical echelle (see description above)

IR echelle (see description above)

intermediate resolution O/IR spectrograph (see description above)

other, please specify



In this Issue

Currents is a sparkplug for communication between NOAO and our community. It provides updates—and solicits community input—on NOAO observing opportunities and NOAO programs and policies on a more rapid timescale than is possible with the quarterly NOAO Newsletter.

NOAO is the national center for ground-based nighttime astronomy in the United States and is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.

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