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White Papers Solicited for High-Resolution Optical Spectroscopy

July 2010


Instrument Support Structure - Gemini South.

Gemini Observatory is embarking on a new round of instrumentation development, with an anticipated emphasis on filling in missing capabilities and replacing aging instruments. High-resolution optical spectroscopy is one of the most highly desired missing capabilities identified by the Gemini community. As such, the Observatory solicits Gemini community participation to define the specific details of this desired capability.

A critical first step in this process is to identify those critical science goals and objectives that provide, in a demonstrative way, a solid justification of this new capability. Since the vast majority of the expertise in this area rest within the community, Gemini Observatory here issues a call for “White Papers on High-Resolution Optical Spectroscopy for Gemini Observatory” in order to help construct the scientific case for this kind of spectroscopy. The Observatory is encouraging anyone with an interest in promoting high-resolution optical spectroscopy for the Gemini community, both observers and instrument builders, to participate. Please note, however, that this call is not a solicitation for proposals to fund, build, or observe with such an instrument at this time.

Instrument Support Structure - Gemini North


While this call is specifically intended to stimulate creative thinking, please consider the following guidelines. First, the primary goal of this call is to establish the scientific rational for doing high-resolution, R>15,000, optical spectroscopy on an 8-m telescope, so we are most interested in position papers that help present a strong scientific justification for this capability. Also, it is important to be forward looking and include future scientific opportunities; any capabilities developed from this call will be available in the latter two-thirds of this current decade and should be able to attack future problems.

Second, although scientific justifications are the driving force behind this initial effort, this project faces serious technological difficulties imposed by the fact that the Gemini telescopes have only Cassegrain foci and no Nasmyth foci (as demonstrated by the earlier HROS, bHROS, HRNIRS, and PRVS projects). Therefore, instrument and technology position papers that address how to overcome the mass, volume, and gravity variant limitations are welcomed. Possible solutions range from employing a fiber-fed bench-mounted instrument to using new, innovative technologies that would allow for a Cassegrain mounted device.

Third, “out of the box” thinking is invited as long as it is demonstratively reasonable. Ideas that are too technologically immature, risky, costly, time consuming, or complex will most likely not be feasible within the resources expected, while those ideas that minimize the above will have a much greater chance of inclusion in the final, approved concept.

Finally, as a means of starting a discussion but not to unduly restrict it, we present a “straw-man” concept, a result of the Gemini Science Committee April 2010 meeting, for consideration: a fiber-fed bench-mounted spectrograph with a resolution of about 50,000. This concept is perceived to be affordable, low risk, and deliverable on a short time scale, yet capable enough to fulfill much of the anticipated science. Being a “straw-man” concept, we welcome all critical, but constructive, criticisms and emphasis that this is a concept only – if this concept is unsupported scientifically it will not be pursued.

Directions for submitting a Position Paper

If you would like to participate, please contact Eric Tollestrup, Associate Director of Development, as soon as possible (etollestrup"@" or 808-974-2511) to register your intent to contribute. Include, if known, what specific topic will be addressed and the names of any co-authors. The deadline for the papers is September 7, 2010. White Papers should be no more than five (5) pages long (including all material such as figures and references), written as succinctly as possible, and, most importantly, put into universal context. Moreover, to help consolidate the effort, we encourage the formation of special interest groups to write a single position paper for a given research topic (i.e., this is not a popularity contest and the primary goal is to build a broad and strong scientific case for this capability, so multiple papers expressing the same justification is simply redundant).