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Aspen Program Announcement #1

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WFMOS Questions

Question: Can you clarify the Gemini partner share situation and outline how it should be addressed through the initial RFP phase?

Answer: The table of remaining Aspen partner shares in the WFMOS Announcement of Opportunity summarizes remaining partner shares in Gemini’s projected USD 75 million Aspen instrument program. The projected budget for WFMOS is ~USD 45 million and an additional 30% has been added as contingency, bringing the total projected cost to ~USD 60 million for this instrument. Given the total cost for WFMOS and remaining partner shares in the entire Aspen program, the following table defines how much money is nominally projected to go to each partner for WFMOS from Gemini:

CountryDollar Amount (USD)
USA 12,900,000
United Kingdom 11,600,000
Canada 3,100,000
Brazil 1,200,000
Argentina 1,200,000
Australia 0
Total 30,000,000

The remaining USD 30 million will be provided by Subaru which does not have to follow Gemini’s partner share constraints. Cost estimates for the various components for WFMOS have been generated through the Feasibility Study Report (FSR), which is available here. Teams submitting a request to receive the WFMOS RFP must clearly identify in their request how the division of tasks among their team’s members will satisfy (at least approximately) the partner share distributions. In general this means identifying which members of a given team will be responsible for the developing the various major WFMOS components, assigning costs to these per the FSR, and indicating in the request for the WFMOS RFP how this distribution of tasks among the team members will result in the countries listed above receiving work with the approximate dollar values given in the table above.

Also, it is important to note that Gemini’s partner shares are balanced over the long term and while every effort should be made to define a team that reflects this distribution of cost/work, you do not have to match the shares tabulated exactly. In fact, given the uncertainties of the cost estimates for the various WFMOS components, this wouldn’t be practical anyway.

Question: Should requests for an RFP be from the lead organization in a consortium and does the make-up of that consortium have to be firm/finalized in that request?

Answer: The underlying reason for sorting out partner share distributions up-front is to let teams develop as early in the process as possible so that no matter how the eventual down-select works out, a solution to the partner share situation is realized. It is understood that forming such a team is a dynamic process/negotiation. Your request for an RFP should come from an identified lead institution and describe how you intend to balance partner shares across your team. If, after you receive the RFP, that leadership changes or new partners are included in your team, that’s fine as long as a partner share “solution” is preserved.

PRVS Questions

Question: Where did the cost estimate for PRVS come from?
Answer: The USD 7 million value posted in the PRVS Announcement of Opportunity is a rough estimate, derived through consultation with several experts in the field, and from the costs associated with other existing Gemini instrumentation. The assumed configuration behind this estimate is an optical assembly that is mounted on a commercial bench and fiber fed through a cartridge mounted in GMOS (like bHROS). Depending on the long-wavelength requirements of the instrument, this bench assembly may have to be cooled by placing the instrument in a commercial thermal enclosure, like the CIRPASS concept, which operates through the H-band. It is assumed the infrared focal plane will be fully cryogenic in any configuration adopted. To be clear, using this basic configuration is not required – it was simply used for budget planning purposes.
Question: If the studies indicate higher costs than the USD 7 million listed will PRVS be cancelled?
Answer: The cost cap indicated is provided in the same spirit as all the other top-level specifications that teams should work toward while detailing a design through the study phase for PRVS. It is provided as a constraint to avoid teams submitting bids that are wildly beyond available funding. Teams with lower cost designs are at a competitive advantage, though the down-select decision between teams will be made based upon a range of criteria. A decision as to whether or not to build PRVS will be made in November 2006, at which time we will have much better cost estimates for the other components of the Aspen program, and a program-wide decision will be made about which instruments should be built as proposed, which might be descoped before being built, and which will no longer be pursued.

MK Site Testing Questions

Question: The permitting process on Mauna Kea can take a long time. How are you planning to deal with that given the schedule indicated on your web page for conducting the Mauna Kea site testing program?
Answer: We prefer to use instrumentation that is either deployed in a nightly basis and stored during the daytime in Gemini’s facilities or, if possible, one of the other small existing telescopes on Mauna Kea. The permitting process is much faster if equipment is not permanently deployed on the summit ridge and of course no permit is required if an existing telescope is used to conduct observations.

General Questions

Question: Who should I contact to involve Brazil and Argentina in our team and are there particular institutions in these countries that have developed expertise already with building Gemini instrumentation?
Answer: To date involvement by the South American partners in Gemini’s instrument program has been minimal and it is important that their financial contributions to the program are recognized through involvement in future instrument development. Your first point of contact for Argentina should be the Argentina NGO Guillermo Bosch. The first point of contact for Brazil should be Albert Bruch for information about potential Brazilian collaborations.
Question: How will I find out if other Aspen Program Announcements are released?
Answer: Send a message to Andy Flach requesting that you are put on the distribution list for any future Aspen Program Announcements.

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