New software releases and GPP progress

There have been two software releases in the past week.

First, the 2020B Phase I Tool (PIT) was released along with the 2020B call for proposals. The main change in this version is an update to the GeMS/GSAOI guide star analysis to account for the much greater sensitivity of the new NGS2 wavefront sensor.

Second, we released the 2020A.1.1.3 patch to the Observing Tool. We had to change the protocol for GAIA DR2 catalog query from http to https. This also required us to update some of the underlying libraries used for http queries. The GAIA DR2 catalog is used for GeMS/GSAOI guide star asterism searches. This release is optional unless you have observations using GeMS/GSAOI.

We are also making progress with initial designs for the main proposal submission, observation preparation and execution, and logging interfaces for the Gemini Program Platform (GPP). We are preparing for an inception, or design, review in Q2 of this year.

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Gemini Program Platform CoDR Documents Available

Gemini has started a series of new projects designed to replace the current Observatory Control System (OCS) tools such at the Phase I Tool (PIT) and the Observing Tool (OT). A goal is to create new tools that are easier to use and more capable for supporting new instrumentation and new modes such as time domain astronomy. A core project in this effort, the Gemini Program Platform (GPP), recently passed its Conceptual Design Review (CoDR) and the documentation for the review can be found here.

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2020A OT Released

The 2020A.1.1.1 OT was released on December 3, 2019. The main changes are to support the new Natural Guide Star module (NGS2) in Canopus that significantly improves sensitivity and sky coverage. The GAIA DR2 catalog is now the default guide star catalog for Canopus guide stars and we hope to use this catalog for all wavefront sensor in the future.

Posted in 2019 December Release, Observing Tool | Comments Off on 2020A OT Released

2019A ITC Observation Overheads

The 2019A version of the Gemini Integration Time Calculators (ITCs) gives estimates of the observing overheads for all instruments and modes (except for GSAOI which will be released later). The overheads include the correct number of acquisitions (one for every 2 hours of science), detector readout, telescope offsetting, and time for re-centering of spectroscopic observations when required. These calculations make several assumptions about the observing strategy, so please review your results carefully.

Output for a GMOS long-slit observation with 16 x 10-minute exposures binned 1×2:

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2018B ITC Improvements

The 2018B Integration Time Calculator (ITC) includes many improvements:
– Support for summing GMOS IFU elements with an aperture (see figure below)
– Automatically set the GSAOI Strehl in the web form
– Relabel obsolete components as “Unavailable” (while retaining functionality)
– Fix some NIRI filters with unnecessarily wide profiles
– Fix the GMOS nod & shuffle exposure time passed to the ITC from the OT
– Fix a problem causing occasional failures with the power-law input SED
– Fix failures with large user-supplied SEDs
– Remove unnecessary wavefront sensor options
– General cleanup of the web form

Posted in 2018 June Release, ITC, Public | Comments Off on 2018B ITC Improvements

Revert Changes

The old OT has a way to “undo” mistakes by deleting the local copy of your program and re-downloading the previous version from the Gemini database. However, this is not obvious and the process is not intuitive. The new 2018B OT solves this by adding a “Revert Changes…” option to the “File” menu. This will re-download your program from the Gemini database, thereby reverting all your changes since the last time you clicked the “Sync” button. Note that if anybody else has made changes to your program and uploaded them to Gemini the “Revert Changes…” option will also pull in those changes since the program is being downloaded from the database. After selecting “Revert Changes…” the OT will ask for a final confirmation in the form of a pop-up:

Posted in 2018 June Release, Observing Tool | Comments Off on Revert Changes

2018B Observing Tool

The 2018B Observing Tool (OT) to be released at the end of May features a 5 micron “lucky” image mosaic of Jupiter taken with NIRI on the Gemini North telescope.  See the press release for more details.

Posted in 2018 June Release, Observing Tool, Public | Comments Off on 2018B Observing Tool

2018A OT Elevation Plot

The 2018 OT Elevation Plot has been updated so that the light-gray area indicates the time between sunrise/sunset and 12° twilight.  This is a change from previous versions where light-gray indicated the time between 12° and 18° twilights.  This new shading matches the (internal) Gemini observing plans, and the various times are also now labeled in the plot for clarity.

Elevation Plot

Posted in 2017 December Release, Observing Tool | Comments Off on 2018A OT Elevation Plot

2018A ITC Improvements

The 2018A ITC includes many improvements:
– Add support for GMOS IFU-2 mode with the new Hamamatsu CCDs
– Add support for GNIRS spectroscopy with Altair
– Update the Gemini telescope mirror reflectivity
– Show the SED brightness normalization of user-defined SEDs in the web output
– Display the GMOS peak counts as a fraction of the saturation limit
– Fix the emission line minimum width when the source has a non-zero redshift
– Fix a bug with GNIRS XD + 111 l/mm grating which caused the ITC to fail if the central wavelength was not in the K-band
– Fix the missing TReCS ZnSe cryostat window data file


Posted in 2017 December Release, ITC | Comments Off on 2018A ITC Improvements

Disabling Automatic Guide Star Search


The 2018A OT makes it easier to disable the Automatic Guide Star (AGS) selection, useful for example, for unguided non-sidereal observations.  Either set the Auto Guide Search to “Off” (as shown above), or just delete the automatically selected guide star in the Target component.   AGS may be re-activated by setting the Auto Guide Search back to any valid wave front sensor.

Posted in 2017 December Release, Observing Tool | Comments Off on Disabling Automatic Guide Star Search