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Gemini e-Newscast #99

September 21, 2017

In This e-Newscast:

Rocky Planet Engulfment Explains Stellar Odd Couple

Astronomers using the Gemini Observatory and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (with GRACES) uncover remarkable differences in the abundance of heavier elements, and the Lithium content, in a binary star system. The research team speculates that this difference is caused by the engulfment of rocky planets early in the system’s evolution which enriched one of the stars. The work also hints at a formation scenario resulting in gas giant planets forming relatively far from their host star. More details can be found in the Gemini webfeature.

New Phase I Tool Tutorial Available

A quarter of the respondents to the Phase I short survey (held last spring across all the semester 2017B Gemini proposers) have reported that they experienced issues working with some sections of the Phase I Tool (PIT). In response to this valuable feedback, we have arranged a new PIT tutorial web page.

This page comes in time for semester 2018A proposers and it contains:
  1. Updated videos (which can also be watched from the Gemini YouTube channel);
  2. Reorganized and streamlined information;
  3. Specific sub-pages with detailed information about the PIT sections (note that these pages were already present prior to the recent update).
We understand that many sections in the PIT can still be improved, but this effort is planned on a much longer timescale, and wasn’t possible to complete in time for the current call for proposals. In the meantime, we hope that this new web documentation will help users when dealing with the less intuitive parts of the PIT.

For comments on the PIT tutorial, please contact For questions about the PIT, please send a helpdesk ticket.
Snapshot of the top of the PIT tutorial page


The Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST) begins verification and testing over the next several months. The Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) is completing the build phase of their work on GHOST. Meanwhile, the Australian National University (ANU) team is progressing on the software to prepare the Integral Field Unit (IFU) positioner and slit viewer for testing. This testing will progress over the next two to three months in order to verify that requirements have been met prior to shipping the Cassegrain unit and prototype cable to Gemini South in Chile for early testing on the telescope. Next, the AAO will send the slit viewer and science cable to Canada for integration with the spectrograph being built by the Canadian National Research Council - Herzberg (NRC-H).


After a successful kickoff meeting in April the OCTOCAM team worked with Gemini staff for a better understanding of Gemini operations and how the new instrument will be successfully integrated. The teams came together again in early August for the Conceptual Design review in Hilo. 
Pete Roaming, Project Manager for Southwest Research Institute and Christina Thöne, Deputy Project manager from IAA in Spain led the presentations of work accomplished during the first 4 months of the project. An external review panel chaired by John Troeltzsch from Ball Aerospace reviewed the required documents and led a discussion of progress thus far.

Gemini North Telescope is Back in Action!

The Gemini North telescope has been back on sky since August 25, following a scheduled seven week shutdown. After enclosure repairs, telescope engineering, and instrument checkouts, the telescope is back to routine science and operations. Although the lower shutter still needs some additional work, this marks the culmination of a major coordinated effort by Gemini staff. The Gemini North day crew worked against the clock on shutter repairs, instruments (including the Acquisition and Guidance unit), and real-time software upgrades. Great work and congratulations to our day crew!
Steve Hardash (right) guides one of the new shutter chains into place.
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