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OT Special Instructions 2009B

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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 July 13 2009 is a hard deadline for both queue and classical programs. Programs that have not completed their Phase II definitions by the deadline will be considered withdrawn and will be cancelled.

The mechanism for submitting your completed Phase II Science Program is by 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
13 July 2009 Mandatory deadline for all queue and classical programs.
MOS Mask Cut Deadlines

At Gemini North: MOS masks will be cut on the first working day after the 1st and 15th of each month. 

At Gemini South: MOS masks wil be cut periodically (twice a week). 

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 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.

27 July 2009
18 August 2009
1 October 2009
19 October 2009
11 December 2009
19 January 2010

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 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. The LGS target list preparation dates are subject to change if LGS runs are rescheduled.

Programs that have not completed their Phase II definitions by the deadline noted above will be dropped from the queue or classical 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. In all cases it benefits programs with early targets to get their Phase II ready early, as 09B programs will most likely be observed at the end of 09A to 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 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 June 8 2009. 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 2009B Phase II preparation (as well as on-going 2008B and 2009A programs); do not use the previous "2009A" 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, as these contain updated calibration observations as well as templates.

Relaxation of Observing Condition Constraints and Other Observation Changes

Band 3 programs overfill the queue once weather loss is taken into account. They are very unlikely to be completed if they require better than average conditions. Programs in Band 3 will be expected to use the relaxed Band 3 conditions that were specified during Phase I. It is always acceptable to relax the conditions even more since 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?".

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 and visiting instruments as mandated by the Gemini Board. Phase II support for the other instruments remains with the Gemini Observatory staff. In outline, the Phase II process for the established instruments is as follows:

  • PIs interact with NGO support staff to complete Phase II using the OT for all observations with NIRI and NIFS (including Altair), Phoenix, both GMOSs (including MOS mask design), T-ReCS 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) and Sandy Leggett (sleggett 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 use the Gemini HelpDesk. This allows us to ensure that no queries are missed and helps 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 be directed to the specific NGO or Gemini support staff. Support assignments do change occasionally and you can verify the contact names by fetching your program or from the "interactive snapshot" of the Observing Database, accessed from the contents list on the schedules web page. (The NGO and Gemini support staff email addresses are listed on the support staff web page).

OT and Other Late-Breaking Changes for 2009B

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

Phase II Deadline Changed for Classical Programs

Starting in 09B, the Phase II deadline for classical programs is the same as the queue deadline, in this case July 13 2009.

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 from any available imaging with good astrometry. This has the potential to save observing time since pre-imaging with GMOS will no longer be required. PIs who are interested in utilizing this should inform their contact scientists.

Major new OT capabilities and procedure changes

  • The new GMOS-N B600 grating, and new narrow band filters for Gemini North, have been added to the GMOS configuration list.
  • The method of selecting guide stars in the target component has been changed. The available guide star types are now context sensitive.
  • The NICI instrument component now include a ISS port selection option.
  • The Flamingos 2 instrument component has been updated to support instrument commissioning.
  • The first changes for GeMS/GSAOI have been included.

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 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