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OT Special Instructions 2009A

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This page provides instructions for completing Phase II Science Programs for all Gemini North and Gemini South instruments. It includes submission details and procedural changes. Please read this page carefully!

 Deadlines and Mechanism for Return of Completed Science Programs

As in the previous semester the Phase II deadline is a hard deadline for queue programs. Programs that have not completed their Phase II definitions by the deadline will be dropped from the queue. 

The mechanism for submitting your completed Phase II Science Program isby using the Store command in the Observing Tool and is the samefor all instruments.  See the Observing Database information for more details. 

Dates for submission of completed Phase II information are (all 6pm local time):

Phase II deadlines for all instruments
Deadline Notes
16 January 2009 Mandatory deadline for all queue programs.  
1st and 15th of each month MOS masks will be cut on the first working day after the 1st and 15th of each month. The mask design and corresponding Phase II updates must be submitted at least one week before the cutting date. If a mask design is submitted too late for one deadline, then it will be cut two weeks later.

We strongly encourage all MOS PIs to submit their mask designs as early as possible (either at the start of the semester if not using GMOS pre-imaging or immediately after the pre-imaging is taken) in order to increase the chance that the MOS observations will be completed. Please ensure that the latest version of the mask design software is used.

26 January 2009
2 March 2009
27 March 2009
24 April 2009
26 May 2009

Dates of preparation of LGS targets lists by Gemini staff for approval by Space Command. Change requests for target additions and alterations must be made well in advance of these dates for the target to be included in the next LGS run, and observations set to "ready" at least two days prior. (These restrictions do not apply to LGS programs granted ToO status.)

The mandatory deadline applies to all queue programs including templates for Quick Response / ToO observations. The mask design deadlines are more flexible but we encourage PIs to submittheir mask designs and final MOS observations as early as possible. The LGS target list preparation dates are subject to change if LGS runs are rescheduled.

PIs of all classical programs must also submit Phase II observation definitions. The deadline for these is three weeks prior to the first scheduled night

Programs that have not completed their Phase II definitions by the deadline noted above will be dropped from the queue or schedule. In exceptional cases an exemption may be requested by emailing the Heads of Science Operations (ijorgensen at gemini.edu, brodgers at gemini.edu)

In some cases GMOS PIs may be contacted directly and asked to submit their Phase II early to provide sufficient observations for pre-imaging and MOS spectroscopy at the very start of the semester. All MOS pre-imaging observation descriptions must be submitted by the regular deadline (see table above).

Distribution of Phase II Skeletons

All observations must be defined using the Observing Tool (OT) software. Gemini staff have translated approved Phase I proposals into the Phase II format for loading into the OT. In this process, the observations and other details entered in Phase I are used to construct a ("skeleton") framework of your Science Program.

Instructions on skeleton retrieval were sent to PIs during the week of December 8. As in previous semesters, the Phase II skeletons are downloaded/uploaded directly from/to the Gemini telescope databases to enable more efficient and rapid processing. See more information on using the Observing Database.

A new release of the OT is available to support Semester 2009A Phase II preparation (as well as on-going 2008A and 2008B programs); do not use the previous "2008B" public release There are OT installation instructions available. If you are unfamiliar with the OT, there is an OT tutorial that provides a useful introduction. In addition, each instrument also has several web pages thatprovide guidance on observing strategies and how to describe these in the OT. OT libraries with example observations and configurations for each instrument can also be fetched.

Relaxation of Observing Condition Constraints and Other Observation Changes

For semester 2009A the queue was constructed by filling the expected observing conditions (and overfilling the poorer than average conditions) but limited to the total available queue time (i.e. the total science timeless scheduled classical nights and estimated Band 1 rollover programs). Band 3 programs, which occupy the lowest half of the queue, are unlikely to be executed, and very unlikely to be completed, if they request conditionsthat are better than average (especially in cloud cover and image quality).

Programs in Band 3 will be expected to use the relaxed Band 3 conditions that were specified duringPhase I. It is always acceptable to relax the conditions even moresince more relaxed conditions leads to a higher probability ofexecution (see Advice for Band 3 PIs).  One useful analogy is to consider "how would I attempt this program if it were classically scheduled and the conditions were sub-optimal?".

In semester 2009A we are continuing the "poor weather queue" to fill telescope time under very poor, but usable, conditions. Poor weather proposals can be submitted at any time using the PIT.

The Observing Conditions component now also makes it possible to add airmass or hour angle constraints. While needed for some programs, use of these constraints is equivalent to a change to better conditions constraints than approved by the ITAC.  Therefore, any use of the airmass or hour angle constraints requires approval via the change request procedure.

If during detailed definition you find that the approved observations need to be modified, please follow the change request procedure.

User Support

The National Gemini Offices are responsible for Phase II support for the "established" facility andvisiting instruments as mandated by the Gemini Board. Phase II support for theother instruments remains with the Gemini Observatory staff. In outline, thePhase II process for the established instruments is asfollows:

  • PIs interact with NGO support staff to complete Phase II using the OT for all observations with NIRI (including Altair), Phoenix, both GMOSs (including MOS mask design), T-ReCS, GNIRS and Michelle.
  • All Phase II Science Programs are checked by NGO staff prior to being forwarded to the Gemini Contact Scientist. (Note that Gemini CSs will return any Phase II programs that are received directly from PIs, with instructions to contact their NGO).
  • Gemini Contact Scientist checks Phase II Science Programs; if there is any problem the Science Program will be returned to the NGO support staff. The NGO staff will then iterate further with the PI.
  • Only when the Gemini Contact Scientist agrees that the Science Program is ready will it be activated in the queue for execution. The PI will be notified that their program is in the active queue and that the Gemini CS is now the primary contact point.

You can help us and speed this process by checking the program yourself (see the OT/Phase II checklist and instrument-specific checklists on the OT instrument component pages). 

If you wish to change the primary contact for this program, e.g. to a co-I, please e-mail Rosemary Pike (rpike at gemini.edu) with a copy to the Gemini Heads of Science Operations (ijorgensen at gemini.edu, brodgers at gemini.edu) and a copy to your National Gemini office.

To help us in tracking and resolving user problems,questions and suggestions, and thereby improving the software and web pages, please usethe Gemini HelpDesk. This allows us to ensure that no queries are missed andhelp us improve the software and documentation. A streamlined interface is available for Phase II queries, keyed to your Gemini Program ID (e.g.GS-2006B-Q-12). As with the regular HelpDesk interface, your query will bedirected to the specific NGO or Gemini support staff. Supportassignments do change occasionally and you can verify the contact namesfrom the "interactive snapshot" of the Observing Database, accessedfrom the contents list on the schedulesweb page. (The NGO and Gemini support staff email addresses are listed on the support staff web page).

OT and Other Late-Breaking Changes for 2009A

The principal changes to the OT software are listed on the OT Release Notes page. There arealso several new policy changes. Here we summarise how they affectPhase II observation definition and point the user to further details.

Minimizing the effects of atmospheric refraction in GMOS data

The GMOS instrument web pages have been updated to give information about some of the consequences that can result from the fact the GMOSs do not have atmospheric dispersion correctors. Advice is given on how to limit the effects on data.

GMOS mask designs without GMOS pre-imaging

We have implemented the capability for the design of GMOS MOS masks fromany available imaging with good astrometry. This has thepotential to save observing time since pre-imaging with GMOS will nolonger be required.  In 2009A it is offered on an "at risk" basis. PIs who are interested in utilizing this should inform their contact scientists.

Major new OT capabilities and procedure changes  

  • A note is added to the Phase II skeletons giving advice about how to get started on completing the Phase II.
  • The default Michelle low N central wavelength is set to 9.5um in order to place the spectra away from a currently unusable detector chanel.
  • Many small bug fixes.

Notification of Data Taken and Electronic Distribution

The "Notify PI" checkbox in the OT observation component is not yet active. Nonetheless, raw data are available "immediately" (usually within minutes) from the Gemini Science Archive using your OT (observing database) key for secure access to proprietary data. PIs will be notified by email once their data have been quality assessed and ingested into the archive and are available as a package along with other metadata (observing logs, calibrations etc). See more information about data retrieval from GSA

Status of Submitted Programs and Observations

The queue summary and "interactive database snapshot" pages show the current execution status of all queue programs andindicates when data have been taken. (For the next level of detail,click on the "execution status" link under each program to see the status of each observation or on the execution log links in the contents list to see which observations were executed each night).

Gemini Observatory Participants