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New Gemini Observatory Agreement Signed

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Multinational agreement extends operations of the international Gemini Observatory through 2027.

Representatives of the United States of America, Canada, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and the Republic of Korea have signed a new agreement to continue the operations of the international Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab. The agreement took effect on 1 January 2022 and ends on 31 December 2027.

“With Gemini we've learned a great deal about the Universe that we didn't know before, and we’ve been reminded that there is much yet to learn,” said NOIRLab Director Patrick McCarthy. “As we look to the 2020s, we will continue to deploy the latest technology with international teams to expand the frontiers of astrophysics.”

The international Gemini Observatory comprises twin 8.1-meter optical/infrared telescopes, located on two of the best observing sites on the planet. Gemini North is near the summit of Maunakea in Hawai‘i, and Gemini South is on Cerro Pachón, at the edge of the Chilean Andes. Named after the constellation Gemini (the Twins), the two telescopes together provide complete coverage of the night sky. 

“Gemini Observatory is extremely pleased to have the continued support of the full international partnership for the next six years of discovery,” says Gemini Observatory director Jennifer Lotz. “The next few years will be a particularly exciting time for astronomy, Gemini, and our users. I appreciate all the work that our board and funding agencies have put into establishing the new international agreement.”

Part of the key to Gemini’s success is continuous reinvestment in science instruments, adaptive optics, and other systems. The current suite of capabilities at Gemini includes a cutting-edge wide-field laser adaptive optics system that complements other current space- and ground-based telescopes, in particular the upcoming Vera C. Rubin Observatory. Gemini will undergo a major revitalization of its instrumentation and adaptive optics capabilities over the period of this new 6-year agreement.

“Through this next agreement period, the Gemini observatories will provide unique and vital capabilities focused on revealing the nature of the Universe around us and our place in it,” said Martin Still, Gemini Program Director at NSF. “This epic journey of discovery is a collaboration between nations, and we are proud and delighted to renew the Gemini partnership with our international colleagues.”

The Gemini international partnership includes the United States, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Korea. The Gemini Board, which includes members from each of these countries, provides governance for the project. NOIRLab operates the Gemini Observatory on behalf of the partners.

“The renewal of the Gemini agreement guarantees the Brazilian community’s access to the forefront of observational infrastructure in optical and near-infrared astrophysics,” said Gemini Board member Bruno Castilho of the Laboratório Nacional de Astrofísica (LNA) in Brazil. “Gemini is the largest and most modern Brazilian observational tool in optical and infrared astronomy, which is shown by our significant scientific production carried out with Gemini data,” added Wagner Corradi, LNA Director, Gemini Finance.

"I am very delighted to see that KASI and Gemini partners committed as a team to keep exploring the Universe together over the coming years,” said Gemini Board member Narae Hwang of the Korea Astronomy & Space Science Institute (KASI). “With the 2022 Gemini Science Meeting in Seoul and the imminent new capabilities like GHOST and IGRINS-2, I believe that the Gemini community will enjoy exciting years sharing the wonders and exploring the secrets of the Universe.”

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Contacts

Vanessa Thomas
Public Information Officer
NSF’s NOIRLab 
Tel: +1 520 318 8132
Email: vanessa.thomas@noirlab.edu

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