Despite the first FT block being lost to winter weather, we have been able to make some progress on observations in the FT queue. Four out of 13 programs have been completed, while two others are awaiting second- or third-epoch observations. Short programs and observations that can tolerate sub-optimal conditions and/or bright skies make useful “fillers” on regular queue nights, and last night’s scheduled FT night allowed for some further progress despite the somewhat cloudy skies. FT-9 wins the Fastest Turnaround prize so far, being observed and completed within a few days of the PI preparing the observations.
At the third FT deadline, on March 31, we received seven proposals. This is the minimum required for the program to run (to give a good chance of all proposals being reviewed by 5 or more people). 22 hours were requested, compared to 60 in January and 54 in February. The three available nights are therefore undersubscribed (or subscription factor ~1, allowing for typical weather losses). Any proposal must receive a minimum score of 2.0 (on a 0-4 scale) in order to be accepted, though, so the quality of the approved programs shouldn’t suffer because of the small time request.
We suspect that the small number of proposals is due to the deadline coinciding with the 15B deadline for regular queue proposals. We will of course be very curious to see how many proposals are received at the end of April…
For more information and analysis of the FT program, see the April issue of GeminiFocus.