The most recent FT proposal deadline passed yesterday (May 31st), and we received just three proposals. As this is below the minimum number required for the program to run in any given month (to ensure that proposals receive a sensible number of reviews; rule 12), the program will not be running this month. PIs have been advised. We’re looking forward to talking with the community at the Future and Science of Gemini meeting in a couple of weeks to find out their views about the FT program. Is there genuinely little demand for a scheme like this? Do people write fewer proposals with little deadline pressure (you can always apply next month) and knowing that extra work (i.e. peer reviews) is involved? Does it matter that the 15B telescope schedule hasn’t yet been defined, so it’s not clear what instruments will be available at what times? Etc….
The first FT deadline fell at the end of January, with programs selected and prepared during February. FT programs have a lifetime of 3 months, so those accepted in the first cycle were active until yesterday (May 31st). Most of those programs were observed in full. The exceptions were FT-4 and FT-6. FT-6 obtained 30% of their data, while FT-4 was an LGS program that could only have been executed on a single night in May, and conditions at that time weren’t good enough for laser operations. It’s been tricky to strike the right balance between accepting programs that can only be completed if the weather and telescope cooperate perfectly and rejecting highly-ranked programs; we’ve probably erred on the side of the former so far, but apparently this has worked reasonably well for most people. As always, FT progress can be seen here.