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NOAO Newsletter - US Gemini Program - September 2000 - Number 63

US Gemini Instrumentation Program Update

Taft Armandroff and Mark Trueblood

USGP activities to provide instrumentation for the Gemini telescopes, both in-house at NOAO and in the wider community, continue to progress. This article gives status updates as of late July.

NIRI is a 1-5 µm imager with three pixel scales, designed and built by Klaus Hodapp and his team at the University of Hawaii. In we described a series of NIRI cold cycles to carry out tests and check fixes to problems discovered in previous cycles. Since that time, all significant NIRI issues have been successfully resolved. NIRI passed its Pre-Ship Acceptance Test in Honolulu in May. NIRI was then shipped to the Gemini Northern Operations Center in Hilo and set up in the instru-ment lab. A team of controller and detector experts from NOAO traveled to Hilo in June and successfully resolved problems with ringing in the NOAO-supplied NIRI array controller. Delivery of the one frame-per-second upgrade to the NIRI controller by NOAO is planned for early fall. On-telescope final acceptance testing of NIRI is planned on Mauna Kea in August.

T-ReCS, the Thermal Region Camera and Spectrograph, is a mid-infrared imager and spectro-graph for the Gemini South telescope, under construction at the University of Florida by Charlie Telesco and his team. The majority of the T-ReCS optics have been received and inspected, including the critical diamond-turned mirrors. Also, mechanical parts fabrication is nearing completion and mechan-ical assembly has begun. A USGP Quarterly Review of T-ReCS took place on July 18. The team plans acceptance testing on Gemini South in May 2001.

GNIRS, the Gemini Near-Infrared Spectrograph, is a long-slit spectrograph for the Gemini North telescope that will operate from 1 to 5 µm and will offer two plate scales and a range of dispersions. The project is being carried out at NOAO in Tucson under the leadership of Neil Gaughan (Project Manager) and Jay Elias (Project Scientist). GNIRS held a Pre-Fabrication Review on May 11 and 12. The review committee examined the GNIRS team's progress on mechanical design, mechanical analysis, thermal analysis, software design, and prototyping efforts in the areas of cold motors, mechanism drives, and lens mounts; they delivered a positive report. The project is now completing the detailed design stage, while initial fabrication has begun for those sub-assemblies for which design is complete. The critical optics have been ordered and somewhat over one-third have been delivered and accepted. GNIRS delivery is planned for July 2002.

Rendered image of the GNIRS instrument Caption: The Gemini Near InfraRed Spectrograph (GNIRS) passed Pre-Fabrication Review, and fabrication of some sub-assemblies has begun at NOAO.

NICI, the Near Infrared Coronagraphic Imager, is funded by monies directed via a proposal from the NASA Origins Program to NOAO. NICI will provide a 1-5 µm infrared coronagraphic imaging capability on the Gemini South telescope. Mauna Kea InfraRed (MKIR) was the successful competitive bidder for the NICI conceptual design study and the only respondent to an RFP for building the instrument. As described in NOAO Newsletter No. 62, a conceptual design review of MKIR's concept for NICI, followed by a procurement review of their proposal, was conducted on April 18 and 19. Currently, MKIR is honing its concept for the instrument and its project plan, based on feedback from the review committee. NOAO and MKIR are negotiating the contract for NICI procurement.

FLAMINGOS 2 is a concept for a near-infrared multi-object imaging spectrograph for the Gemini South telescope, developed by Richard Elston and his team at the University of Florida. The FLAMINGOS 2 concept builds on the heritage of the FLAMINGOS imaging spectrograph (FLAMINGOS will be offered as a visitor instrument on Gemini). FLAMINGOS 2 has been developed in response to the "Gap Filler" opportunity for Gemini South, wherein the relatively rapid deployment of a near-infrared spectroscopy and imaging capability is sought. A conceptual design review of FLAMINGOS 2 was held on April 28. A parallel review was conducted for a competing instrument, IRIS-2g (proposed by the Anglo-Australian Observatory). The Gemini review committee judged FLAMINGOS 2 to be more suitable for Gemini's needs and aspirations. Currently, the International Gemini Project, USGP, and Florida are discussing strategies for procuring FLAMINGOS 2, subject to Gemini's financial and programmatic constraints.

How to obtain more information on these instrument projects

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