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2015 Request for Proposals: Small Projects

Gemini is introducing a new program to produce user-motivated upgrades to our operating instruments at both Gemini sites.  We hope this program will simultaneously help keep our current instruments competitive in the field and better serve the scientific needs of our users.  We have therefore released a Request for Proposals (RfP) to fund such small projects within a total budget of $200,000. Proposals will be evaluated on their scientific value to the Gemini community, the projects’ risks, and their initial and longterm costs to Gemini (see the RfP documents for complete selection criteria).  Our intent is to fund two projects this year, although we are receptive to supporting either more or fewer projects if the proposed projects are compelling enough and if funds and available staff effort allow.  Respondents may also propose for up to ten hours of telescope time with their proposal so they may quickly realize and publicize the scientific benefits of the new capability.

Request for Proposals

Gemini Observatory is committed to providing its community with the best possible competitive instrumentation suite given technological and financial constraints.  Part of this strategy is to invest funds in upgrading its operational instruments in order to keep them scientifically competitive.  The Instrument Upgrade: Small Projects (IUSP) program will provide funding to upgrade existing operational instrumentation, creating a new instrument capability at the observatory.  Gemini is seeking community-created science-driven instrumentation upgrades, and proposals will be considered in any area that fit the set of IUSP guidelines.  


Gemini has a total budget of $200,000 for the IUSP in this call and is intending to fund two or more projects, however compelling proposals requesting up to the whole budget will be fully considered. Gemini also welcomes proposals to perform instrument upgrades with minimal or no funding from Gemini.  All proposals must be submitted to Gemini to allow for evaluation, review and internal planning for the allocation of Gemini support and resources.  The Science and Technology Advisory Committee (STAC) endorsed the observatory’s guidelines for the IUSP in their 2015A report.

The Gemini IUSP can be awarded to profit or non-profit institutions or companies within the nations that fund the Gemini Observatory (regular or limited term partners).  Gemini will accept proposals from individuals outside the partnership who have significant experience in using the instrument or significant experience in designing/building the instrument.

To encourage a wide variety of participant organizations, Gemini will provide up to one night (10 hours) of observing time per project to be used on demonstrating the scientific potential of the upgraded instrument. 

What are Gemini's key criteria?

1. IUSP projects should produce a tangible result that creates and or enables new science with existing facility instruments that meet Gemini's constraints including available funds and labor, desired schedule, and community interest.

2. Gemini is seeking to fund two projects, but may choose to fund either one or more than two projects  depending on the requested funds, the available staff effort, and the perceived benefit of each project.  However, the total cost to Gemini for the 2015 projects must not exceed the total budget.

3. This program is not intended for design studies for future instruments or large upgrades. Data processing software project proposals will not be considered within the IUSP program. 

4. The project’s value must be clearly shown and explained. The project should require a minimal level of effort from Gemini staff to develop, implement, and maintain. Gemini will assess the impact of the project and the outcome against the resources needed to support the project. Gemini will assign the relevant resources, pending availability, to assist the team with their work such that the upgrades are successfully achieved.

5.  The project must include readiness testing prior going on-sky and full characterization of the upgrade afterward. Gemini will only consider proposals for efficient instrument upgrades of minimal to moderate technical risk and the proposal must thoroughly identify and suggest the mitigation of key risks and instrument downtime. The upgraded instrument must comply with the Gemini Interface Control Documents (ICDs).

6. The schedule for the RfP release, review, and completed signed contract covers four months.  Gemini intends to start work on the small instrument upgrade projects in March 2016.   Depending on the details of the involved work package, work for each project is expected to be completed within 12 months of the contract execution date.  All else being equal, we prefer projects that finish within 6 months.

Document IUSP-01 details the requirements and selection criteria.

IUSP RfP Events
Due Date
Release RfP
6 October 2015
Letter of Intent to Submit Proposal
27 November 2015
Proposal Deadline
17 December 2015 at 4:00 PM (MST)
Contractor Selection
10 February 2016*

*This date is estimated only and included only to provide proposers scheduling guidance. Selection may occur sooner or later than anticipated.

The Request for Proposal is comprised of the following documents: Request for Proposal main document (Document IUSP-01), Proposal Form (Document IUSP-02) and the Small Projects Contract (Document IUSP-03).   Please review this documents carefully before beginning work on your proposal.  

Here is a list of Frequently Asked Questions and Additional Information. Gemini's instrument scientists developed a list of potential small instrument upgrade project options to serve as example projects intended to inspire your own thoughts and projects.  Here is a subset of their ideas, link here, Gemini is wanting to receive your proposals.   

If you want to receive updates about the IUSP RfP, please provide contact information including an email address to Karen Godzyk (rfpiusp@gemini.edu).

Gemini Observatory Participants