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Gemini e-Newscast #97

July 12, 2017

In This e-Newscast:

Gemini and Subaru Observatories Support Juno Science

Detailed Gemini Observatory infrared images peel back Jupiter’s atmospheric layers to support the NASA/JPL Juno spacecraft in its quest to better understand Jupiter’s atmosphere.

As the Juno spacecraft prepares for its close passages of Jupiter, Gemini and the Subaru observatories on Maunakea are acquiring high-resolution imaging of Jupiter to identify compelling features for close-up study as shown below. “The Gemini observations, spanning most of the first half of this year, have already revealed a treasure-trove of fascinating events in Jupiter’s atmosphere,” said Glenn Orton, PI for this Gemini program, which includes adaptive optics imaging. Orton is coordinator for Earth-based observations supporting the Juno project at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

For more details see the Gemini press release.

Composite color infrared image of Jupiter (left) reveals haze particles over a range of altitudes, as seen in reflected sunlight. The image, consisting of 5 bands, used the Gemini North telescope with the Near-InfraRed Imager (NIRI) on May 18, 2017, one day before the Juno mission’s sixth close passage (“perijove”) of the planet. At longer infrared wavelengths (right), Jupiter glows with thermal emission at 4.8-micron image. This image, obtained with the Gemini North telescope’s Near-InfraRed Imager (NIRI), was obtained on January 11, 2017, so the relative positions of discrete features have changed with respect to the near-infrared image at left.

Update on Gemini Short Surveys

Those of you who have submitted a proposal for semester 2017B have already been invited to fill a quick survey about the Phase I process. We were very pleased to get a response rate above 50% (many thanks!), which gave us a clear snapshot of the current status of the Phase I Tool (PIT), the Integration Time Calculators (ITC) and our Phase I documentation. Roughly, ~65% of respondents either liked or really liked the system; of these, ~20% had suggestions for improvements. Yet, ~11% were strongly unsatisfied, and shared very useful comments about what, in their opinion, should be different. The rest of the respondents commented on specific issues they ran into that deserve our attention (top figure). Additionally, six respondents sent us compliments about the service and the help they received! You are welcome.

Most of the comments we received through the Phase I Short Survey were about the PIT. For the moment, there is no change possible in the PIT itself. That is because we are currently working on creating a new tool. However, 1) the comments were included in the effort to determine requirements for the new tools, and 2) better training documentation are on the way and should be published in time for next Call for Proposals. Watch the August e-newscast for more details on the changes we are making in response to this survey initiative.

Soon, other Short Surveys will be launched. They will cover semester 2017A, the Phase II preparation for semester 2017B, and quality of data from semester 2016A.

Number of comments that mentioned PIT, the ITC, the documentation on the Gemini Website, appreciation of the support (Compliments), and other topics.

Distribution of the topics covered by the comments about PIT. The four main comments are regarding the Target and the Time editors in the Observations window, the overall navigation structure, and the PIT works (Function). There are requests, such as including the abstract in the .tex file, sending notification emails, changing the way we need to transition to new versions, and improving the way to reuse old proposals. The remainder is dominated by reports on the lack of accessibility or software bugs.

July Issue of GeminiFocus Newsletter Available

The July 2017 issue of GeminiFocus is now available electronically. This issue features an in-depth feature on work led by Wes Fraser on blue binaries in the Kuiper Belt, a cover story on Gemini’s imaging support of the Juno mission to Jupiter, updates on instrumentation, news for users, and an announcement of Gemini assistant scientist Meg Shwamb’s award of the Sagan Medal in planetary science communications.

Gemini North Shutdown Plans

Gemini North is now in a major shutdown to resolve the shutter issues that have affected the telescope since 2014. Gemini’s lower and upper shutters, which weigh 9 and 20 tons respectively, crawl along stationary chains located at either side of the shutter, using powered “drive boxes” (one of which is pictured here). In the aftermath of the failures in late 2014 and early 2015, the drive boxes were significantly redesigned and have been tested at Gemini South; but it was also clear that differential stretching of the chains had played a role in the failures, requiring the chains to also be replaced. This work requires a long series of coordinated activities. Extraction of the chains requires hiring the largest crane available on the island of Hawai‘i and, since the drive boxes themselves weigh 2 tons, extracting them from the shutter and bringing them to ground level (and back up) can best be described as non-trivial. Currently the schedule calls for the work to run from 10-July to 25-August.

One of the two-ton drive boxes suspended during a prior shutdown.

KASI Astronomers Observe at Gemini North

Minjin Kim (foreground) and Woowon Byeon (background) from the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) observed at Gemini North for five nights. The team used the Gemini Remote Access to CFHT ESPaDOnS Spectrograph (GRACES), the Gemini Near InfraRed Spectrometer (GNIRS), and the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) to observe young stars in the Galactic Center, white dwarfs in our galaxy, and galaxies undergoing tidal disruption events.

International Time Allocation Committee Report for Semester 2017B

Gemini’s International Time Allocation Committee (ITAC) has released their recommended time allocations for semester 2017B as shown in the figures below. The recommendation contains 1.5 nights of Subaru-exchange (1 night at Gemini North in classical mode and 0.5 nights at Gemini South in queue mode). Gemini PIs still obtained nearly 5 nights on Subaru because Gemini had a positive balance in the exchange. There are no classical programs scheduled from the participants. The classical programs scheduled are for Australia (1 night at Gemini North and 2 nights at Gemini South), Subaru and CFHT (1 night at Gemini North and 0.7 nights at Gemini South). 
ITAC recommended telescope usage by instrument for all programs, classical, LLP, Australia and Korea. North is at the top, South is at the bottom. Band 4 and rollover programs are not included in the figures.

Second Chilean Gemini Users Meeting & Workshop

The Gemini Observatory and the Universidad de La Serena (ULS) are organising the second Chilean Gemini Users Meeting and Workshop at the ULS from September 6-8, 2017. The meeting brings together Gemini users from Chilean universities in order to exchange new Gemini-based findings, while learning about the current and future opportunities that Gemini offers. Participants are also invited to join in a Gemini data reduction workshop, targeting graduate students and early-career researchers. Reducing GSAOI and FLAMINGOS-2 images, as-well-as GMOS IFU and MOS spectra, are topics participants will gain first-hand experience in during this workshop led by several Gemini staff.

Thanks to the kind partnership with the Universidad de La Serena financial support (including travel and accommodation) is available for the majority of workshop participants. However, be quick, since registration for financial support closes on July 20th! Regular registration closes on August 15th.  

We hope to see you in La Serena!

For more details click here

Photo-Z course at the University of La Serena

Photometric redshifts have become a key tool in mapping out the history of the Universe, and many major surveys are underway and being planned to do just this. The University of La Serena (ULS) supported this effort in a special two-day course to explain both the theoretical background of the techniques, and provide participants with hands-on experience working with state-of-the-art tools used to determine photometric redshifts. The course was led by Alberto Molino from the University of Sao Paulo, and hosted by ULS’s Sergio Torres Flores. The organizers kindly invited participants from several observatories to join in the class to learn more about this exciting research field.

Participants in the ULS Photo-Z course. Photo: courtesy Dr. Sergio Torres Flores (ULS)
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