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Semester 2012A

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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

The Phase II deadline of January 17, 2012 is a hard deadline for both queue and classical programs. Note that failure to submit a defined program by the Phase II deadline will result in the progam being canceled. Extensions are granted only in exceptional circumstances and only if requested prior to the deadline.

The mechanism for submitting your completed Phase II Science Program is by using the Store command in the Observing Tool and is the same for 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
17 January 2012 Mandatory deadline for all queue and classical programs.
MOS Mask Cut Deadlines

MOS Masks are currently cut at Gemini North for both telescopes.  Allow an extra week for delivery to Gemini South. We hope to resume mask cutting at Gemini South in early 2012.

The mask design and corresponding Phase II updates are submitted via the OT and then checked by the NGO contact before being forwarded to the observatory for cutting. The time between mask design submission and when the mask can be available at the telescope is approximately 2 weeks for Gemini North and 3 weeks for Gemini South (due to mask shipping time). 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. Gemini reserves the right to not cut masks for queue programs submitted within 6 weeks of the end of the semester if the queue coordinators determine that the MOS observations cannot be scheduled.

Be sure to use the latest version of the mask design software.

Classical program PIs must submit their mask designs at least two weeks prior to their arrival at Gemini North and three weeks prior to their arrival at Gemini South.

Note that all MOS observations must be defined by the phase II deadline. Observations without masks will be reviewed and set to "On Hold" until the masks become available, at which time the PI will have a chance to make modifications if necessary.

January 18, 2012

February 28, 2012
27 March 2012
24 April 2012
22 May 2012

Dates of preparation of Gemini-North 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 and classical programs including templates for Quick Response / ToO observations. The mask design deadlines are more flexible but we encourage PIs to submit their mask designs and final MOS observations as early as possible (see the table above). The LGS target list preparation dates are subject to change if LGS runs are rescheduled.

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. In all cases it benefits programs with early targets to get their Phase II ready early, as some 2012A programs will most likely be observed at the end of 2011B to help fill the queue.

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 of 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. NGO staff may have also copied relevant observation templates from the OT example libraries into selected programs. Please use any templates as the starting point for completing the Phase II observations.

Instructions on skeleton retrieval were sent to PIs on December 19, 2011. 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 2012A Phase II preparation (as well as on-going 2010A, 2010B, and 2011A programs); do not use the previous "2011B" 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 that provide guidance on observing strategies and how to describe these in the OT. OT libraries with example observations and configurations for each instrument must be fetched and used for your observations, as these contain updated calibration observations as well as templates.

OT and Other Late-Breaking Changes for 2012A

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

OT Libraries

There are many changes to the OT libraries, especially to include automatic calibrations for GNIRS, GMOS-N/S, NIFS, and NIRI. Fetch the new libraries by selecting "Fetch Libraries..." from the File menu of the OT Science Program Editor.

NGO staff may have added relevant template observations from the OT libraries to selected programs in order to improve the Phase II process. Please use these templates as the starting point for the final Phase II observation definitions. Contact your NGO contact scientist if you have any questions.

Many instrument libraries now include "Standardized Notes" which should be used if possible to efficiently convey important information to the nighttime observers.

Major new OT capabilities and procedure changes

  • Automatic GCAL settings for GMOS, GNIRS, NIFS, and NIRI
  • Automatic read mode settings for GNIRS, NIFS, and NIRI
  • Revised sequence time line view and improved overhead calculations
  • Automatic guide star selection for GMOS sidereal targets

GMOS-N CCDs should be E2V

All GMOS-N observations must use the E2V CCDs and 6 amp mode. See the GMOS Status page for news on the GMOS-North detector upgrade. Characterization of these CCDs is ongoing; only a new 6-amp mode has been commissioned for science use and there are no plans to commission the 3-amp mode. Please see the GMOS data format page for details on the 6 amp format. Releases are planned for handling data reduction with these new CCDs. Please download the latest release when it becomes available.

Relaxation of Observing Condition Constraints and Other Observation Changes

By default observations must use the observing conditions constraints approved by the ITAC during the Phase I process. Band 3 programs must use the approved Band 3 conditions. It is always acceptable to relax the conditions since more relaxed conditions lead to a higher probability of execution.

To change to better observing conditions than approved by the ITAC, or to add airmass or hour angle constraints, requires approval via the change request procedure. Target changes and other significant modifications to the original proposed observations also require approval, see the change request procedure for more information.

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.

User Support

The National Gemini Offices are responsible for Phase II support for the established facility and visiting instruments. In outline, the Phase II process is as follows:

  • PIs develop their Phase II using the OT library examples and interacting with NGO support staff as needed for assistance;
  • Phase II Science Programs are checked by NGO staff who iterate with PI if needed, before setting observations to "For Activation";
  • Once set for activation, the Gemini Contact Scientist will perform a final check before setting observations "Ready" to observe. If there is any problem the observation status will be returned to "For Review" for further iteration between the NGO and the PI.
  • As observation status changes in the OT, the PI, NGO contact and Gemini contact receive emails. The PI must always fetch the program to ensure he/she has the latest version before making changes and storing again.

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).

Status of Submitted Programs and Observations

The queue summary and "interactive database snapshot" pages show the current execution status of all queue programs and indicates 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