Herschel-HIFI News

Submitted by Sylvie Beaulieu, Herschel-HIFI Instrument Support Scientist
(Cassiopeia – Spring 2015)

Herschel Interactive Processing Environment (HIPE)

Although HIPE 12.1 is the current released version, the release of HIPE 13.0 is at our door’s step! Please visit the HIPE Download page regularly for an imminent release by mid-April. In the meantime, you are invited to visit What’s New in HIPE for the latest changes in this coming release. Additional information can be found in HIFI Instrument and Calibration. This page will be updated for HIPE 13.0 once this version is released.

Herschel Science Archive (HSA)

Just a reminder that the Herschel Science Archive has been 100 % public domain since the 29th of October 2013. This represents an excellent opportunity for additional astronomical discoveries for the larger Canadian astronomical community. You are thus invited to browse through the Archive and dig for undiscovered treasures! But wait, there’s more! The Herschel data can be used in combination with e.g. JCMT/SCUBA-2 and ALMA data (see Workshop advert) so you may find additional data to complement your science.

The HSA interface is user friendly which makes it easy to search for your favourite object. A new feature of the HSA
interface allows you to access the ‘User Provided Data Products’ supplied by the Key Programmes. Additionally, once
the Archive products are processed with HCSS 13.0, at least 75 % of the Spectral Scan products will have been expertly flagged by ICC, therefore increasing the quality of the deconvolution.

Conferences, workshops and webinars related to Herschel

Herschel feature stories

In this issue, we present three contributions from our Canadian scientists.

Introducing new MSc student James Cambell (working with Dr. Rene Plume, University of Calgary) who will use HIFI data for his mémoire.

This 2016 master’s thesis will explore Herschel-HIFI observations of C18O (5-4), (7-6), (9-8), (11-10), and (15-14) towards a sample of 14 hot cores. With ancillary ground based measurements of C18O (1-0) and (2-1), obtained with IRAM 30m, as well as C18O (3-2), obtained with JCMT, we can derive the total C18O column density with the contribution of the hot emission well constrained. No emission is detected in the highest observed transition towards most of the hot core sample. Synthetic spectra are fit to the observations via local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) modelling implemented in CASSIS as well as non-LTE modelling utilizing the RADEX code. Two physical components are required in order to properly fit the line profiles across multiple transitions, which we model as (1) an extended cool clump and (2) an embedded hot core. Clump sizes are estimated from JCMT C18O (3-2) maps allowing us to accurately model the total column density of the extended component for each source. HIFI 13CO (9-8) maps confirm the assumption that the extent of the hot emission is contained within a beam size. We thus model each hot core with an assumed typical size of 0.1 pc yielding an additional estimate of the total column density endemic to the embedded component.

We are looking forward to reading the results in 2016!

Introducing PhD student Kianoosh Tahani (working with Dr. Rene Plume, University of Calgary)

Herschel Observations of EXtra-Ordinary Sources (HEXOS): Analysis of the 1.2 THz Spectral Survey Towards Orion South

We will present results from a spectral survey toward Orion-S, taken by the HIFI instrument aboard the Herschel Space Telescope, in which we detected 744 spectral lines with S/N > 3sig originating from 50 different molecular and atomic species, as well as a number of unidentified lines. Focusing on the not blended lines, we performed LTE modelling for each of the detected species. This analysis provides us with the physical conditions of Orion-S (column density, temperature, source size, etc.). We could identify the presence of both warm (80 K) and cold (40 K) regions.

This work will be submitted soon. Stay tuned, and contact Kianoosh if you would like to learn more!

And a new contribution by our 2014 J.S. Plaskett medalist:

Dr Andy Pon (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching) and collaborators P. Caselli, D. Johnstone, M. Kaufman, M. J. Butler, F. Fontani, I. Jiménez-Serra, and J. C. Tan

Mid-J CO shock tracing observations of infrared dark clouds I

Infrared dark clouds (IRDCs) are dense, molecular structures in the interstellar medium that can harbour sites of high-mass star formation. IRDCs contain supersonic turbulence, which is expected to generate shocks that locally heat pockets of gas within the clouds. We present observations of the CO J = 8-7, 9-8, and 10-9 transitions, taken with the Herschel Space Observatory, towards four dense, starless clumps within IRDCs (C1 in G028.37+00.07, F1 and F2 in G034.43+0007, and G2 in G034.77-0.55). We detect the CO J = 8-7 and 9-8 transitions towards three of the clumps (C1, F1, and F2) at intensity levels greater than expected from photodissociation region (PDR) models. The average ratio of the 8-7 to 9-8 lines is also found to be between 1.6 and 2.6 in the three clumps with detections, significantly smaller than expected from PDR models. These low line ratios and large line intensities strongly suggest that the C1, F1, and F2 clumps contain a hot ga gas component could be generated by turbulence dissipating in low velocity shocks.

This work is described in more detail in Pon et al. (astro-ph1503.00719).

The University of Waterloo Herschel-HIFI Support Group is committed to assist you with accessing data through the Herschel Science Archive (HSA) and in using the Herschel Interactive Processing Environment (HIPE) to process your data. Please do not hesitate to contact us. Our webpage HIFI has a dedicated page on Data Processing.


By Ernie Seaquist, ACURA Executive Director
(Cassiopeia – Spring 2015)


This is the seventh issue of the semi-annual newsletter for E-Cass readers. The intention is to keep the community up to date on the activity of ACURA. ACURA is the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, with a membership of 20 universities. ACURA exists to promote the interests of Canadian university astronomers, including the highest priority LRP projects requiring funding by the Federal Government. The current projects of interest to ACURA are the TMT and the SKA. ACURA also maintains an active role in advancing the interests of its member institutions in the governance of federally supported astronomy, currently undertaken by NRC.

ACURA is primarily concerned with the promotion of its two highest priorities – the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) following the ground based priorities for world observatories in the LRP. More on these topics below.

Activity on the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)

Most of the activity during the last six months has been related to the promotion of the TMT by ACURA together with its Coalition partners – CASCA and Industry. There is urgency for a government decision on TMT now because of the date adopted by the TMT International Observatory (TIO) Board for a final decision by the partners to proceed with TMT construction. The TIO Board is awaiting a report by the Canadian government on its funding before taking this decision, currently scheduled for the TIO Board meeting on April 29/30, 2015. ACURA is currently an Associate Member (non-voting) of the TIO, and reports regularly to the Board, mainly on our activity to promote TMT with the government and the status of the decision. There is much pressure on ACURA from the TIO Board now that Canada is the only partner not to sign the participation agreements with funding in place, and that on-site construction is beginning this month.

TMT lobbying activity during the past several months has been extensive and strategic, focusing on the offices of the PMO, the PCO, Department of Finance and Industry Canada. Independent contacts by the Coalition Industry Co-chair have also been very extensive. All of these meetings and contacts have been successful in bringing awareness of TMT to the highest levels of government, and an acknowledgement at these levels of the importance of the project scientifically, economically, and internationally. The main issue is money, given the large “ask” of $300M over 10 years. Much discussion has focused on the suggestion by Industry Canada that the new Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) could be used to support the TMT. However, as is now well known, this fund presents a problem at least for funding the majority of the cost, especially the enclosure (half the cost) which is infrastructure, not research. In addition, from a practical standpoint, the fund offers neither sufficient financial support overall nor an appropriate timeframe for immediate support of TMT. Minister of State for S&T Ed Holder was formally consulted by letter of this problem by the Coalition on December 8, shortly after the detailed terms and procedures for CFREF were announced.

In addition, ACURA has engaged its member university presidents (through ACURA Council members) in supporting the TMT. The project has been discussed at the U15, and among individual presidents. The result is that presidents of the key universities which initiated the original design study have expressed their support on behalf of ACURA institutions to government for Canadian participation in the TMT, and are engaged in discussing with senior levels of government scenarios for such participation.

Additional efforts have been made to contact senior levels of the Canadian government through channels in the partner countries with some indication of success through contacts initiated in the U.S.

A late positive development was the completion of a new report commissioned by NRC on the economic benefits of astronomy instrumentation development at NRC, focusing on the TMT and SKA work. The report entitled Astronomy Technologies Study by the Ottawa firm of DoyleTech Corporation gives a particularly good account of the benefits of the TMT. The report demonstrates the large potential economic benefit of the adaptive optics (AO) work stemming from the emerging new applications to fields such as medicine, the defence industry, communications, and the consumer optical market. Industry Canada has an in-depth awareness of this report, and through NRC, has approved its release to ACURA, though not to the general public. However, we have permission to send the Executive Summary to key individuals with interest in advancing the TMT in Canada.

The bottom line on TMT is that there is an awareness of this project at all relevant levels of government, and that this has stimulated action at the highest levels. One of the challenges of course is the current economic climate in Canada, which suffers from the depressed price of oil, though the resulting delay in the Federal Budget can be seen as giving some breathing space for the decision on TMT.

Activity related to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

On SKA matters, there has been a pause in ACURA engagement over the last several months, but this is about to change as the new chair of the new ACURA Advisory Council on SKA (AACS), Bryan Gaensler, has arrived in Toronto to take up his new position as Dunlap Institute Director. Bryan is firmly taking the reins of AACS. The ACURA Board has allocated a financial contribution for the support of AACS activity, appropriate since ACURA has taken the SKA university activity under its wing following the departure of Russ Taylor to South Africa. Future and ongoing ACURA support for SKA activity in the universities is anticipated.

Based on a recommendation from the AACS, the ACURA Board also nominated Bryan as the NRC appointed Scientific Director from Canada to the international SKA Organization Board of Directors, and I’m pleased to report that NRC has approved this appointment. The Scientific Director is one of two appointees to the Board, the other being Greg Fahlman as the NRC (voting) member.

Nouvelles du CNRC Herzberg – NRC Herzberg News

By/par Dennis Crabtree (NRC-Herzberg)
with contributions from/avec l’apport de Eric Chisholm, Alan McConnachie

(Cassiopeia – Spring 2015)

The English version follows

Rapport Cassiopeia du Bulletin de CNRC Herzberg

Les rubriques qui suivent reviendront dans chaque numéro du bulletin et ont pour but de tenir les astronomes canadiens au courant des activités de CNRC Herzberg. Les commentaires des astronomes sur la manière dont CNRC Herzberg accomplit sa mission, c’est-à-dire « assurer le fonctionnement et la gestion des observatoires astronomiques mis sur pied ou exploités par l’État canadien » (Loi sur le CNRC), sont les bienvenus.


CNRC Herzberg a recruté avec succès deux attachés de recherche pour le télescope Plaskett. Les demandes reçues étaient aussi nombreuses qu’excellentes, cette année, et touchaient des domaines très variés. J’ai le plaisir de vous annoncer que Samantha Lawler et Nicholas McConnell, les deux meilleurs candidats, ont accepté notre offre.

Astronomie optique

Exploreur spectroscopique du Mauna Kea (MSE)

Le développement des activités se poursuit à la cadence prévue.

  • Le bureau du projet a pris passablement d’ampleur avec l’arrivée de la Chine et de l’Inde, mais aussi avec l’approbation du budget complet pour les activités de 2015. Un nouvel ingénieur de projet installé à Waimea entrera en fonction en avril.
  • Au début d’avril, l’équipe technique tiendra une réunion à Nanjing, en Chine, en vue de coordonner les activités de conception et d’ingénierie entre ses membres, disséminés un peu partout (y contribueront le Canada, la Chine, la France, l’Inde et le CFHT).
  • L’équipe scientifique a remis son rapport sur les activités de la première phase, qui amorce l’élaboration de la version détaillée du dossier scientifique et du cahier des charges scientifiques (SRD en abrégé, pour Science Requirements Document). Le SRD est un des documents de haut niveau – ils sont plusieurs – se rapportant au projet (avec le document sur l’architecture de l’observatoire, le cahier des charges de l’observatoire et le document conceptuel des opérations) en cours d’élaboration et dont le contrôle devrait changer de main plus tard cette année.
  • La première réunion annuelle de l’équipe scientifique du MSE devrait avoir lieu du 29 au 31 juillet, au complexe hôtelier Marriott de Waikoloa Beach, sur la côte ensoleillée de Kona, sur la grande île d’Hawaï. Il s’agit de la semaine précédant le congrès de l’UAI, qui se tiendra à Honolulu et pour lequel les inscriptions ont débuté.

Renseignements : http://mse.cfht.hawaii.edu

Technologie astronomique


Le GHOST (pour Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph ou spectrographe optique à haute résolution de Gemini) a franchi l’examen de conception préliminaire (décembre 2015). Il s’agissait du premier examen du genre pour un instrument destiné aux observatoires Gemini réalisé en dix ans. L’équipe canadienne de CNRC Herzberg, qui faisait partie des sous-traitants, devait procurer la partie « spectrographe » de l’instrument. Ses membres passent maintenant sans délai à l’étape suivante, avec le concours de leurs collègues de l’Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO – le maître d’œuvre) et de l’Australian National University (ANU).

Le système optique comporte deux bras qui couvriront simultanément les longueurs d’onde de 363 à 950 nm. L’appareil permettra de réaliser des observations en résolution standard (R>50 000) et en haute résolution (R>75 000). Dans le premier cas, le GHOST pourra aussi observer deux cibles en même temps, sur un champ de vision de 7,5 minutes d’arc de diamètre. Surveillez le bulletin pour en apprendre davantage sur la conception du GHOST, qui poursuit son évolution et devrait balayer le ciel au début de 2018!

The NRC Herzberg News Cassiopeia Report

These reports will appear in each issue of E-Cass with the goal of informing the Canadian astronomical community on the activities at NRC Herzberg. Feedback is welcome from community members about how NRC Herzberg is doing in fulfilling our mandate to “operate and administer any astronomical observatories established or maintained by the Government of Canada” (NRC Act).

General News

NRC Herzberg successfully completed the recruitment of two Plaskett Research Associates. We received many excellent applications for this year’s Plaskett’s in a wide range of fields. I am happy to announce that our top two ranked applicants, Samantha Lawler and Nicholas McConnell have accepted our offers.

Optical Astronomy

Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer

Development activities continue apace for MSE:

  • The Project Office has expanded significantly following the participation of China and India in the project, and the securing of the full budget request for 2015 activities. A new Project Engineer will be starting for the project in April, based in Waimea.
  • An Engineering team meeting is being organised in Nanjing, China, in early April, to coordinate design and engineering activities among the distributed engineering team (with contributed effort from Canada, China, France, India and CFHT).
  • The Science Team has reported back on Phase 1 activities that mark the start of the detailed development of the Science Case and Science Requirements Document (SRD). The SRD is one of several high level documents for the project (including the Observatory Architecture Document, Observatory Requirements Document and Operational Concept Document) that are in development and which are expected to enter change control later this year.
  • The first annual MSE Science Team meeting is scheduled to take place 29 – 31 July at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort on the sunny Kona coast of the Big Island of Hawai’i. This is the week before the start of the IAU in Honolulu. Registration is now open.

For more information, see: http://mse.cfht.hawaii.edu

Astronomy Technology


The Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST) succeeded in its preliminary design review (December 2015). This was the first successful PDR Gemini has had for an instrument in the last ten years. The Canadian team, from NRC-Herzberg, has been sub-contractor to provide the spectrograph portion of the instrument and in concert with our Australian colleagues from the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO – prime contractor) and the Australian National University (ANU) are keenly moving into the next stage of the project.

The optical design features two-arms and will provide simultaneous wavelength coverage from 363nm to 950nm. It will have both standard (R>50,000) and high resolution (R>75,000) observing modes. In standard resolution mode, GHOST will also have the capability to observe two targets simultaneously over a 7.5 arcmin diameter FOV. You can look to E-Cass for future updates highlighting the evolving design and can expect to see GHOST on-sky in early 2018!

President’s report


By Chris Wilson, CASCA president
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2014)

Hi, everyone,

This has been a busy fall for CASCA, ACURA, and the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy, with major lobbying efforts on behalf of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). The three Coalition co-chairs (Don Brooks representing ACURA, Guy Nelson representing industry, and myself representing CASCA) traveled to Ottawa on October 20 to meet with staff members in the offices of the Minister of Industry, the Minister of Finance, and the Privy Council Office. We will be going back to Ottawa for additional meetings reaching out to different branches of the government on December 16. In November, Guy Nelson joined a Canadian trade mission to China, which gave him additional opportunities to raise the need for TMT funding with politicians involved in that visit. The individual co-chairs have also been busy writing letters to provide updates on the TMT project to other high-level politicians and their staff. In parallel, individual astronomers have had considerable success meeting with their university presidents and raising the TMT issue with them. Several of the key university presidents are now engaged with the TMT issue and are working to make this project a reality. The rules and application deadlines for the first round of the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) were published in early December, which has been very helpful in clarifying the structure of this new funding program. While it may be that some part of the TMT funding can ultimately flow from CFREF, it seems clear that CFREF funding is unlikely to be the sole or even a major source of funds for the TMT construction project.

You might be wondering whether, with all the work we have been doing, we have been given any hints as to the likely success of obtaining TMT construction funding. The reality is that we will only learn whether or not we have been successful on the day that the 2015 federal budget is announced. The secrecy surrounding the federal budget is not new; indeed, we were in a similar situation in 2003 when we needed additional funding for ALMA. I remain cautiously hopeful that we will be successful in obtaining funding for the TMT.

Another important focus of our community this year is the Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the 2010 Long Range Plan, which is now well under way. There have been a very good number of white papers submitted to the MTR panel, with just a few late ones expected as I write this. The white papers are available in the MTR area of the CASCA web site and I urge you to have a look at the ones the overlap with your particular interests.

The MTR panel will be holding three town hall meetings in late March: in Montreal on Tuesday, March 24; in Toronto on Wednesday, March 25; and in Victoria on Thursday, March 26. Please try to attend one of these town hall meetings if you can; they are an important opportunity for you to raise issues with the MTR panel and for the panel to hear about the concerns and priorities of our wider community.

The CASCA Board has been hard at work for you this fall. We sent out a call to Canadian astronomers who were not yet members of the International Astronomical Union inviting them to apply for membership in advance of the 2015 IAU General Assembly, and over 40 people responded positively. We committed some of the surplus that had built up in the Westar fund to supporting the “Discover the Universe” initiative for the next three years, providing some much needed continuity as they wait to hear the results of the next round of NSERC PromoScience grants. We are also working with the EPO committee to decide how to rejuvenate the Westar public lecture series. We are continuing to work on completing the translation of key pages for the French version of the website and trying to do a better job keeping the English and French websites synchronized, for example by posting English-language press releases and job advertisements on both websites. We have completed the renewal of the members of the various CASCA committees and are starting to explore possible areas for collaboration with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC).

I also want to draw your attention to the 2015 CASCA annual meeting, which will be hosted by McMaster University. The dates of the meeting are May 24-27, with an MTR session held for part of the day on May 28. You can expect to hear more information about the meeting in February via the email exploder. The 2016 AGM will be hosted by the University of Manitoba and Brandon University in Winnipeg.

Finally, congratulations to Sara Ellison, who in October was awarded the Rutherford Medal in Physics from the Royal Society of Canada.

Celebrating John Galt: a workshop and a telescope dedication

By Tim Robishaw and Sean Dougherty (DRAO)
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2014)

Sean Dougherty, Rena Galt & Tim Robishaw

Sean Dougherty, Rena Galt & Tim Robishaw

A workshop was held at Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) Sep 22 and 23 to celebrate the career of John A. Galt (1925-2012) and to dedicate the 26-meter telescope in his honour. John was the first employee of the observatory in 1957 and was its director from 1962 to 1981. Many former DRAO staff returned for the dedication ceremony to watch the Director General of NRC-Herzberg, Greg Fahlman, and John’s wife, Rena Galt, unveil a new sign on the tower of the 26-meter showing its new name, the “John A. Galt Telescope”. The new sign had been hidden behind a white sheet, held in place by a truly Galtian contraption of twine and paper clips. Plaques describing John’s accomplishments were mounted nearby.

DSC02309A number of distinguished visitors travelled to Penticton to provide an overview of the work that was done by John during his career as well as current work that has followed in the areas of John’s observational research. Topics covered included Zeeman splitting of the 21-cm line, the Dominion A catalog of 20-cm sources, protection of the radio spectrum, pulsars, fast radio bursts, long baseline scintillometry, radio observations of comets, diffuse polarized Galactic emission, and the CHIME telescope. Some of the first-time visitors to the observatory have suggested novel projects for the telescopes on site, including the new John A. Galt Telescope, with one researcher even planning to publish a paper using John’s extensive hydroxyl observations of Comet Halley using the 26-meter.

A website has been created collecting photos and presentations from the workshop, a historical timeline of John’s career, and a video interview with John.

ALMA Update

By Chris Wilson, Canadian ALMA Project Scientist
(with material from the NRAO newsletters and the ALMA web site)
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2014)

ALMA Current Status

The amazing image of HL Tau obtained by ALMA with 10+ km baselines. This image is at a wavelength of 1.3 mm and has an angular resolution of just 0.035” (5 AU at the 150 pc distance of HL Tau). The size of this disk is about 3 times the size of our solar system. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO).

the amazing image of HL Tau obtained by ALMA with 10+ km baselines. This image is at a wavelength of 1.3 mm and has an angular resolution of just 0.035” (5 AU at the 150 pc distance of HL Tau). The size of this disk is about 3 times the size of our solar system. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO).

ALMA construction is essentially finished. The Extension and Optimization of Capabilities (EOC) team continues to test and implement new capabilities for ALMA, including most recently high frequency (Bands 8-10) observing and long baseline observations. An important milestone was the acceptance of Total Power capabilities in November. Total power (or “single dish”) observations are important for getting information in extended sources on all spatial scales. In addition, the ALMA Pipeline is now in regular use for calibration and has also been released to the broader scientific community to use. The pipeline is part of a special CASA release 4.2.2 and is currently supported for Red Hat Linux and Mac OSX 10.8.

The 3 month dedicated Long Baseline Campaign from September through November has exceeded our expectations and produced some very exciting scientific results. One of these results, the extended protoplanetary disk HL Tau showing gaps produced by some combination of unseen planets and resonances, was the subject of a press release on November 5, 2014. The full press release is available. The other targets observed in this campaign were: a lensed galaxy at z~3, SDP.81; the evolved star Mira; the quasar 3C138 in linear polarization; and the asteroid Juno. All these Science Verification data will be released to the community for scientific exploitation; the target date for data release is January 31, 2015 (+/ 7 days).

“Revolution in Astronomy with ALMA: The Third Year”

A major ALMA meeting was held in Tokyo December 8-11, 2014. With 295 participants from 21 countries, this was a large and exciting meeting. We heard talks on everything from measuring the atmospheric properties of Mars and Io to observations of Milky-Way analog galaxies in the [CII] line and dust at redshifts of 5-7. Speaking as someone who has been involved in ALMA for over 15 years, it was extremely exciting to see such a wide range of exciting science results. I got to give the conference summary talk and it was a difficult job deciding what results to include! There was also an extremely high rate of participation by students, postdocs, and young faculty members, which bodes well for ALMA’s continuing success and scientific productivity. A conference proceedings is planned, so those who were not able to attend should be able to enjoy some of the results next year. In the meantime, many of the results are already or soon to be published, so search under ALMA using ADS or check the list of ALMA papers available via the NRAO library which lists 201 papers as of December 14, 2014.

ALMA Cycle 2 progress

Cycle 2 observing resumed December 1, 2014 after a 3 month hiatus to carry out the long baseline commissioning campaign (see above). An ALMA Cycle 2 status report is available. The report summarizes the status of Cycle 2 Early Science observations, including “Cycle 1 Transfer” projects, as of October 2014. It includes a summary of observing progress, the 12-m Array configuration schedule for the rest of Cycle 2 and a summary of the number of unfinished “high priority” observations by Band, LST and requested angular resolution. At the time the report was written, 369 hr of 12 m array observations had been obtained, with 1670 hr of A+B+Cycle 1 carryover observations remaining to be completed on the 12 m array. The median time between the data being taken and the data being delivered to the PI is about 60 days. The acceptance of the ALMA Pipeline (see above) may speed up this process.

PIs and Co-Investigators can consult the Project Tracker for information on the execution of an accepted project. PIs can also modify their user profile at the Science Portal to receive e-mail notifications whenever a component of a project is first observed, fully observed, or successfully processed.

ALMA Cycle 3 pre-announcement

The expected capabilities and timing for ALMA Cycle 3 were released last week. All 7 receiver bands will be available as well as long baselines (up to 2 km for Bands 8-10, up to 5 km for band 7, up to 10 km for Bands 3-6). Please consult the announcement for further details. The key dates for Cycle 3 are:

  • 24 March 2015: Call for Proposals for ALMA Early Science Cycle 3, release of Observing Tool, and opening of the Archive for proposal submission.
  • 23 April 2015: Proposal Deadline.
  • August 2015: Result of the proposal review process sent to PIs.
  • October 2015: Start of ALMA Cycle 3 observations.
  • September 2016: End of ALMA Cycle 3 observations.

Further Information

This will be my last regular ALMA update for E-Cass as Canadian Project scientist, so it is especially important to point out that a good source for monthly updates on the ALMA project is the electronic NRAO newsletter. And don’t forget the ALMA observatory web site which contains wide range of information about the observatory, including details about science and technology, infrastructure, geographical location. The ALMA Observatory web site has an especially good list of press releases that you can use to keep up to date on the latest hot results or to find information and images suitable for public talks.

Arctic Update

By Eric Steinbring (NRC)
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2014)

A bunch of publications related to astronomy from the High Arctic have appeared in recent months, with a few follow-on news stories, which I will list here for the interested reader. Together they range along the spectrum from the submillimetre through the optical. Apart from each requiring particular innovations to make them possible (and Canadian connections) these all seem to follow a common theme. Many were presented at the SPIE “Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation” meeting at Montreal last summer.

Two of those reports provide descriptions of 350 GHz to 1.4 THz prototype receivers for the Greenland Telescope (GLT) [1], an ASIAA/Harvard/SAO-collaboration, and their plans for deployment and operation at Summit, near the peak of the icecap [2]. This is among the driest, lowest opacity (and most isolated) astronomical sites on Earth. When installed and completed the GLT will combine with ALMA to form the northernmost leg of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) for very-long-baseline interferometry; there was a nice NewsHour piece on this [3]. The truly Earth-spanning scale of EHT is necessary for an ambitious goal to directly image the gravitational “shadow” of a supermassive black hole in M87 [4].

Several papers delivered at Montreal cover developments at Eureka: the wealth of experience gained by observers from UdeSherbrooke and UQAM, within the Canadian Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Change (CANDAC), operating precise star-photometer telescopes from sea level for many years [5]; new Arctic Wide-Field Camera survey results [6] and its evolution to the “Evryscope” [7]; campaign Slope Detection and Ranging (SloDAR) turbulence profile measurements obtained at the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) [8]; and a detailed description of the UofT Dunlap Institute SloDAR instrument itself [9]. Arctic-hardened designs can yield excellent photometry with reduced scintillation due to the cold, highly-stratified atmosphere. An article in the latest SkyNews points to some of these findings [10].

Finally, a concept for a cluster of small optical telescopes allowing autonomous time-domain surveys from PEARL was presented at the “Adapting to the Atmosphere” conference in September at Durham, UK [11]. The unit telescopes, each with a swappable off-the-shelf sealed-tube assembly, were given the nickname “Ukaliq” which is Inuktitut for “Arctic Hare.” There is value in duplication. Other science could profit from this approach, but one particularly good fit for Ukaliq might be a quasar lensing study employing adaptive optics; best seeing is preserved by a compact design originally intended for site testing. Again, success can come by learning to take advantage of local conditions, highlighted in a recent Universe Today post [12].


[1] Grimes, P.K., Asada, K., Blundell, R., et al. 2014, Instrumentation for single-dish observations with the Greenland Telescope, Proc. SPIE, 9153

[2] Raffin, P., Algaba-Marcosa, J.C., Asada, K., et al. 2014, The Greenland Telescope (GLT): antenna status and future plans, Proc. SPIE, 9145

[3] Public Broadcasting System NewsHour, How a global network of telescopes may give us first glimpse of a black hole, 25 November 2014

[4] Lu, R.-S., Broderick, A.E., Baron, F., Monnier, J.D., Fish, V.L., Doeleman, S.S., & Pankratius, V. 2014, Imaging the Supermassive Black Hole Shadow and Jet Base of M87 with the Event Horizon Telescope, ApJ, 788, 120

[5] Ivanescu, L., Baibakov, K., O’Neill, N.T., Blanchet, J.-P., Blanchard, Y., Saha, A., Rietze, M., & Schulz, K.-H. 2014, Challenges in operating an Arctic telescope, Proc. SPIE, 9145

[6] Law, N.M., Carlberg, R., Fors, O., Steinbring, E., Ngan, W., Wulfken, P., Maire, J., & Sivanandam, S., 2014, New results from the first exoplanet survey in the Canadian High Arctic, SPIE Conf. Series, 9145

[7] Law, N.M., Fors, O., Wulfken, P., Ratzloff, J., & Kavanaugh, D. 2014, The Evryscope: the first full-sky gigapixel-scale telescope, SPIE Conf. Series, 9145

[8] Maire, J., Mieda, E., Steinbring, E., Murowinski, R., Graham, J.R., Carlberg, R., Wright, S.A., Law, N.M., Sivanandam, S. 2014, Optical turbulence profiling with SloDAR in the Canadian High Arctic, Proc. SPIE, 91453

[9] Mieda, E., Maire, J., Graham, J.R., Wright, S.A., & Moon, D.-S. 2014, SloDAR instrument for characterizing an Arctic site: overview of the experimental method, design, and performance, Proc. SPIE, 9145

[10] Semeniuk, I. Arctic Telescope, SkyNews, November/December 2014

[11] Steinbring, E., Leckie, B., & Murowinski, R. 2014, Ukaliq: Seeing Long-Term with Small, Precise Arctic Telescopes, IoPCS “Adapting to the Atmosphere”, Durham UK

[12] Majaess, D. Searching for Alien Worlds and Gravitational Lenses from the Arctic, Universe Today, 24 November 2014

Astrosat News

By John Hutchings (NRC)
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2014)

GALEX UV image of M33 with the UVIT field of view superposed

The GALEX UV image of M33 with the UVIT field of view superposed. UVIT will have several times better resolution, and a suite of filters and gratings for such studies.

The Astrosat observatory is a step closer to operations, with the delivery to ISRO of the qualified and calibrated UVIT telescopes. Integration of the five instruments into the spacecraft, and testing of their combined operations is beginning. This process will take at least 6 months before Astrosat is ready for launch. Operations and data processing pipeline software are in test, and early observations (commissioning and baseline science) are in planning. The UVIT delivery follows months of intense work by CSA, ComDev, IIA, and the instrument team, that included working visits to India by CSA’s Jason Rooney, detector expert Joe Postma, and myself.

On this schedule, early science will begin after commissioning in late 2015, and proposal time will begin six months later. The instrument teams are making detailed plans for guaranteed time observations, some of which are simultaneous monitoring at all wavelengths from hard X-ray to visible. The Astrosat website gives an overview of its capabilities. If you have ideas for early science, let me know, as it may be possible to work them into the UVIT observing plans.

Update from the Canadian Space Agency / Compte rendu de l’Agence spatial canadienne (ASC)

By/par Denis Laurin, Program Scientist, Space astronomy (CSA/ASC)
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2014)

La version française suit

CSA President

At the end of October, the Canadian government announced the nomination of Ret. General Walter Natynczyk as Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs. Since Aug 2013, Natynczyk was President of the CSA. Even within this short time frame he contributed significantly to implement the recommendations from the Aerospace Review. This included the announcement of the Canadian Space Policy Framework, described in the March Cassiopeia issue, but worth repeating here since this policy sets guiding principles for future space projects, including space astronomy. On November 3, 2014, Luc Brûlé was named Interim President of the CSA. He has been Vice-President since April 2014.

Space Advisory Board

On November 19, the Canadian government announced the creation of the Space Advisory Board, which will provide expert advice to the government on Canada’s role and future in space. The board consists of experts from across the country, namely: Ret. General Walt Natynczyk, Dr. Mamdouh Shoukri, Terry Malley, Dr. Arlene Ponting, Lorne Trottier, Fred George, John Keating and Colonel Chris Hadfield.


WFIRST (Concept)

CSA will be studying possible contributions to NASA’s foremost Dark Energy (DE) mission WFIRST. A Canadian participation is aligned with the CASCA LRP priority in this area. In early December CSA awarded two contracts for concepts studies to evaluate possible Canadian hardware contributions to the WFIRST payloads. One study, led by COMDEV (Ottawa), concentrates on contributions to the Wide Filed Instrument; while the second study, led by ABB (Quebec), concentrates on contributions to the Coronagraph instrument. The studies have gathered excellent teams of engineers and scientists. In parallel, CSA issued a call for information (RFI) to form a pool of scientific experts and will invite an independent panel to help in the reviews of the results of the concept studies. CSA also continues to support Canadian participation to WFIRST Science Definition Team with Prof. Mike Hudson (University of Waterloo).

JWST (FGS and NIRISS instruments)

CSA is committed to the completion Phase D and support to end of commissioning. Successful testing of FGS and NIRISS was undertaken from June to Oct 2014 on the ISIM (CV2 or cryogenic test campaign 2). In the time between CV2 and CV3 tests (Dec – Jan) will allow some component change over (as planned) including the FGS and NIRISS detectors, grisms, NIRISS dual-wheel motors and an electronic board. This will fix previously identified issues with those components. CV3 test campaign is expected for summer fall 2015. Launch remains as scheduled Oct 2018.

SPICA (SAFARI instrument)

As mentioned in the March issue of Cassiopeia, the CSA supported studies at ABB and the University of Lethbridge continue, with projected completion in mid 2015. JAXA and ESA continue to evaluate their commitment to support the SPICA mission; science definition continues and instrument definition and a review of the concepts. SAFARI remains the key instrument and likely to be lead by SRON in future consideration in the Cosmic Vision M5 program, with projected launch near 2028.


The MOST satellite ceased operation on 9 September 2014. After almost 11 years of operations, MOST has produced over one hundred science publications and provided new insights into the behaviour of stars and exo-planets. Originally planned as a one-year project, MOST was extended annually due to the telescope’s continued successes. In the fall of 2013, the CSA conducted a mission extension review in cooperation with members of Canada’s astronomy community. The evaluation weighed the mission’s ongoing operational costs against its objectives and alternatives. The review led to the recommendation that this CSA mission be terminated, considering that MOST had already surpassed its objectives. The MOST contractor MSCI (Toronto) have taken ownership of the satellite and may still offer science investigation opportunities.

As described in the Cassiopeia of March 2014, CSA is supporting the development of the Advanced Science Archive for MOST data, lead by Vinothini Sangaralingam, Visiting Fellow (CSA / NSERC). This archive will make the MOST data “user friendly” and easily accessible by the scientific community. In collaboration with NRC CADC, UBC and the Université de Montréal, the work is progressing well and expected to be functional within another year.


Canada’s contribution is the Canadian ASTRO-H Metrology System (CAMS). Neptec Design Group (Ottawa) is the prime contractor. The CAMS units consist of two main components: a laser transmitter and optics (CAMS-LD) and the retro-reflective target (CAMS-T), to monitor the translation and rotation of the Hard X-ray telescope (HXT) extendable boom.

Although there have been issued in meeting original position measurement precision due to thermal effects, the effects can be calibrated and will be part of the position solution. On a very tight schedule, the flight units are to be delivered at the end of Dec 2014. Launch of ASTRO-H is planned for late 2015.


The NEOSSat project is in Phase E (commissioning, early operations) since April 1st 2014 (launched in Feb 2013). It is a joint project between CSA and Defense Research and Development Canada (DRDC). The mission has demonstrated High Earth Orbit Surveillance Survey (for DRDC) mission feasibility and tracked GEO and MEO satellites. Demonstrating requirements for asteroid search is in progress: NEOSSat demonstrated commanded pointing, arcsec stability, long exposures (up to 100 sec) and imaging tests with known asteroids. Image noise (fixed, interference, hot pixels) reduction is required and will be solved by a combination of onboard and ground processing. Promising results are currently obtained to meet the asteroid search objective at low solar elongation. Considerable efforts have been provided by CSA Sat Ops, University of Calgary (the Science Processing Operations Center for the asteroid mission), DRDC and MSCI.

Herschel (post ops)

CSA continues to support the post-operations (data reduction, scientific support) of HIFI (U. of Waterloo) to March 2016 and SPIRE (U. of Lethbridge, Blue Sky Spectroscopy) until March 2016.

Planck (post ops)

Support continues for the science team HFI (U. of Toronto), LFI, (UBC) until Aug 2015 data pipeline and analysis for the full mission maps and eventual first release of CMB polarization maps.

Meetings and events

JCSA (Joint CSA and CASCA consultation committee)

The JCSA met at the CASCA AGM in Quebec City and again in early December (by telecom). The next meeting is planned for the CASCA AGM in Hamilton. The current membership is: Brian McNamara (Chair, U. of Waterloo), JJ Kavelaars (NRC Herzberg), Peter Martin (U. of Toronto), Andrew Cumming (McGill U.), Gary Hinshaw (UBC) and Marcin Sawicki (St-Mary’s U.).

LRP MTR town hall

The CSA is supportive of the activities of the LRP Mid-Term Review. The priorities set in the LRP are critical for consideration and inclusion in the CSA space astronomy roadmap. CSA engages to participate and to contribute to the planned (Montreal) town hall discussions and exchange information in the spirit of effective coordination.

Technology Development

Under the STDP program, CSA continues to support the development of:

  • Work on assessment of large UV-enhanced CMOS arrays for wide field missions (e.g. CASTOR), COMDEV, expecting final report summer 2015.
  • Development for enhancement of EMCCD camera for space application is just completed, Nuvu Camera, Dec 2014.


Recently the CSA established a collaborative agreement with the University of Western Ontario (UWO) to enable the installation of an all-sky meteor monitoring camera. The camera is now operational and adds to the UWO existing All-Sky Camera Network.

Wishing everyone a happy Holiday Season.

Président de l’ASC

À la fin d’octobre, le gouvernement canadien a annoncé la nomination de Général (à la retraite) Walter Natynczyk sous-ministre aux Anciens Combattants. Depuis août 2013, Natynczyk était président de l’ASC. Même dans ce court laps de temps, il a largement contribué à mettre en œuvre les recommandations de l’examen aérospatial. Cela comprenait l’annonce du Cadre de la politique spatiale canadienne, décrit dans le numéro de mars de Cassiopeia, mais qui vaut la peine d’être répété ici, car cette politique établit des principes importants pour de futurs projets spatiaux, y compris l’astronomie spatiale. Le 3 novembre 2014, Luc Brûlé a été nommé Président intérimaire de l’ASC. Il a été vice-président depuis avril 2014.

Conseil consultatif de l’espace

Le 19 novembre, le gouvernement canadien a annoncé la création du Conseil consultatif de l’espace, qui fournira des conseils d’experts au gouvernement sur le rôle et l’avenir du Canada dans l’espace. Le conseil se compose d’experts de partout au pays: Général à la retraite Walt Natynczyk, le Dr Mamdouh Shoukri, Terry Malley, Arlene Ponting, Lorne Trottier, Fred George, John Keating et le colonel Chris Hadfield.


WFIRST (concept)

L’ASC va étudier des contributions possibles à la mission de la NASA WFIRST, dédié à l’étude de l’énergie sombre. Une participation canadienne s’aligne avec la priorité du plan à long terme de la CASCA dans ce domaine. Au début de décembre l’ASC a attribué deux contrats pour des études de concepts pour évaluer les contributions possibles canadiennes aux charges utiles de WFIRST. Une première étude, menée par COMDEV (Ottawa), se concentra sur les contributions à l’instrument de grand champs; tandis que la seconde étude, menée par ABB (Québec), se concentra sur les contributions à l’instrument du coronographe. Les études ont recueilli d’excellentes équipes d’ingénieurs et de scientifiques. En parallèle, l’ASC a lancé une demande d’informations (DI) pour former un groupe d’experts scientifiques et invitera un groupe indépendant pour aider dans la revue des résultats des études de concept. L’ASC continue également de soutenir la participation canadienne à l’équipe de définition scientifique de WFIRST avec le professeur Mike Hudson (université de Waterloo).

JWST (les instruments FGS et NIRISS)

L’ASC est engagée à l’achèvement de la phase D et d’un soutien jusqu’à la fin de la mise en service. Les tests réussis du FGS et de NIRISS ont été entrepris de juin à octobre 2014 sur l’ISIM (CV2 ou série de tests cryogéniques 2). L’espace de temps entre les tests de CV2 et CV3 (décembre-janvier) permettra un changement de composantes (comme prévu), y compris les détecteurs FGS et NIRISS, grisms, moteurs du système NIRISS et une carte électronique. Cela va corriger les problèmes identifiés précédemment avec ces composants. Une campagne d’essais en CV3 est prévue de l’été à l’automne 2015. Le lancement reste comme prévu en octobre 2018.

SPICA (l’instrument SAFARI)

Comme mentionné dans le numéro de mars de Cassiopeia, l’ASC continue d’appuyer des études chez ABB et à l’université de Lethbridge, prévu de se conclure vers la mi-2015. JAXA et l’ESA continuent à évaluer leur engagement à soutenir la mission SPICA, la définition de la science continue ainsi que la définition de l’instrument et une étude des concepts. SAFARI demeure l’instrument clé et sera probablement dirigé par SRON et en considération dans le programme (ESA) Cosmic Vision M5, avec le lancement prévu près de 2028.


Le satellite MOST a cessé ses opérations le 9 septembre 2014. Après près de 11 années d’exploitation, MOST a produit plus d’une centaine de publications scientifiques et a offert de nouvelles connaissances sur le comportement des étoiles et des exoplanètes. Initialement prévu comme un projet d’un an, MOST a été prolongé chaque année en raison de son succès. À l’automne 2013, l’ASC a effectué un examen de prolongation de la mission en coopération avec les membres de la communauté astronomique. L’évaluation a pesé les coûts opérationnels de la mission et l’encontre de ses objectifs et considéré des alternatives. L’examen a conduit à la recommandation que cette mission de l’ASC soit retirée, considérant que ses objectifs avaient déjà été longuement dépassés. L’entreprise MSCI (Toronto) a pris possession du satellite et peut encore offrir des possibilités d’investigation scientifiques.

Comme décrit dans le Cassiopeia de mars 2014, l’ASC soutient le développement d’une archive des données réduites de MOST, cet effort est dirigé par Dr Vinothini Sangaralingam, chercheure invitée (l’ASC/CRSNG). Ces archives offriront des données conviviales et plus facilement accessibles par la communauté scientifique. En collaboration avec CADC CNRC, UBC et l’université de Montréal, le travail progresse bien et devrait être fonctionnel d’ici un an.

ASTRO-H (l’instrument CAMS)

La contribution du Canada est le système canadien de métrologie ou Canadian ASTRO-H Metrology System (CAMS). Neptec Design Group (Ottawa) est le maître d’œuvre. Les unités de CAMS sont constituées de deux composantes principales : un émetteur laser et de l’optique (CAMS-LD) et la cible rétro-réfléchissante (CAMS-T) pour mesurer le déplacement et la rotation du télescope à rayons-X durs (HXT) à l’extrémité d’une longue extension.

Bien qu’il y ait été difficile à répondre à la précision requise de mesure de position à cause d’effets thermiques, ces effets peuvent être calibrés et feront partie de la solution de position. Sur un calendrier très serré, les unités de vol doivent être livrés et la fin de décembre 2014. Le lancement d’ASTRO-H est prévu pour la fin 2015.


Le projet NEOSSat est en phase E (mise en service, début des opérations) depuis le 1er avril 2014 (lancé en février 2013). C’est un projet conjoint entre l’ASC et de Recherche et développement pour la défense Canada (RDDC). La mission a démontré la surveillance d’objets en hautes orbites, suivis satellites GEO et MEO. La démonstration des exigences pour la recherche astéroïde demeure en cours: NEOSSat a démontré un pointage commandé, avec une stabilité de seconde d’arc, de longues expositions (jusqu’à 100 secondes) et des tests d’imagerie avec des astéroïdes connus. La réduction de bruit de l’image (fixe, interférences, et les pixels chauds) est requise et sera effectuée par une combinaison de traitement à bord et au sol. Des résultats prometteurs sont actuellement obtenus pour atteindre l’objectif de recherche d’astéroïdes à faible angle du soleil. Des efforts considérables ont été fournis par l’ASC (opérations satellitaires), l’université de Calgary (le centre des opérations de traitement de la science pour la mission), RDDC et MSCI.

Herschel (suivi des opérations)

L’ASC continue d’appuyer les réductions des données et un soutien scientifique de HIFI (université de Waterloo) à mars 2016 anis que SPIRE (université de Lethbridge, Blue Sky Spectroscopy) jusqu’en mars 2016.

Planck (suivi des opérations)

Le soutien se poursuit pour l’équipe scientifique de HFI (université de Toronto), LFI, (UBC) jusqu’en août 2015 œuvrant sur le pipeline de données et d’analyses pour les cartes complètes et l’éventuelle première version de cartes du fonds cosmique avec polarisation.

Réunions et événements

JCSA (Comité consultatif conjoint de l’ASC et CASCA)

Le comité JCSA c’est rencontré lors du congrès annuel de la CASCA à Québec et à nouveau au début de décembre (par téléconférence). La prochaine réunion est prévue au congrès annuel de la CASCA à Hamilton. La composition du comité actuelle est: Brian McNamara (président, u. de Waterloo), JJ Kavelaars (Herzberg), Peter Martin (u. de Toronto), Andrew Cumming (u. McGill), Gary Hinshaw (UBC) et Marcin Sawicki (u. de St-Mary’s).

Plan à long terme – revue à mi-parcours

Le L’ASC appuie les activités de l’examen à mi-parcours du plan à long terme. Les priorités fixées dans le plan sont essentielles pour considération et inclusion dans la feuille de route l’ASC en astronomie spatiale. L’ASC s’engage à participer et à contribuer à la réunion (prévue à Montréal) pour l’échange d’informations dans l’esprit d’une coordination efficace.

Développement technologique

Dans le cadre du programme de PDTS, l’ASC continue de soutenir le développement de:

  • L’évaluation des grands détecteurs CMOS améliorés en UV pour des missions futures (par exemple CASTOR), avec COMDEV; un rapport final est prévu à l’été 2015.
  • Développement pour l’amélioration de la caméra avec EMCCD pour applications spatiales vient de se terminer, Nuvu Caméra, décembre 2014.


Récemment, le l’ASC a établi une entente de collaboration avec l’université de Western Ontario (UWO) permettant l’installation d’une caméra de surveillance de météores. La caméra est maintenant opérationnelle et ajoute au réseau existant de l’UWO du «All-Sky Camera Network».

Souhaitant à tous une heureuse période des Fêtes.

Gemini News – Nouvelles de Gemini

By/par Stéphanie Côté, Tim Davidge and John Blakeslee
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2014)

La version française suit

Fast Turnaround Program starting soon

A problem with the conventional semester-driven time allocation process is that there can be a substantial delay between having a good idea for an observing program and getting the observations executed on the telescope. The FTP is designed to reduce the time between the birth of an idea and acquiring the data. . It is expected that the first call for proposals will be in early January 2015, with a deadline of the end of that month. Accepted programs will be active during March-May 2015. About three nights per month will be dedicated to the FP programs.

An obvious logistical problem is having a TAC that is willing to review proposals on a timely basis on a month-by-month schedule. A novel aspect of the FTP is that the proposals will be peer-reviewed by those that apply for this time on any given month. The CGO has been leading this effort by developing the necessary scripts, and a trial run was conducted in April 2014 with Canadian PIs/Cos refereeing each others proposals. The ranking of the proposals obtained through this process correlated well with the rankings from the regular CanTAC. This first trial received extremely favorable feedback from the Canadian users. The FTP will enable Canadian PIs to access targets of interest before the competition.

New Hamamatsu CCDs

New Red-Sensitive CCDs manufactured by Hamamatsu Photonics were installed in the GMOS-South instrument in June 2014. These detectors have greatly enhanced sensitivity as compared to the previous ones, especially at the red end. The orientation of the CCDs has not changed, and GMOS-S continues to support both IFU observations and Nod+Shuffle observing mode. The fringing is greatly reduced for the new CCDs, but the cosmic ray hit rate is higher. As of this writing, data taken with the new Hamamatsu CCDs must be processed with a special “patch” release of the Gemini IRAF package, which should not be used for GMOS-N data or GMOS-S data taken with the previous CCDs. For more information, see: http://www.gemini.edu/?q=node/12227

News on future capabilities

This past September Gemini launched the Gemini Instrumentation Feasibility Study (`GIFS’) to develop ideas for the next facility instrument. The intent of this process is to foster teams of astronomers and engineers that will generate scientifically-driven capabilities that can be realized within the cost limitations of the instrumentation budget. The competition has a rapid time line – the Request for Proposals was issued on September 19 and proposals are due on December 15. Contracts will likely be assigned to multiple teams in an effort to explore different concepts. The selection of teams will be made by January, and study reports are due in September 2015.

High resolution spectroscopy at visible wavelengths is a capability of interest to Canadian astronomers that has been missing from Gemini. However, both sites will soon have high resolution spectrographic capabilities. On Gemini North a fiber feed has been installed that links Gemini with the ESPaDOnS spectrograph at CFHT. The Gemini Remote Access to CFHT ESPaDOnS Spectrograph (`GRACES’) was developed at HIA Herzberg in Victoria, and had a successful commissioning run earlier this year. On-sky tests reveal total system throughput longward of 5000 Angstroms that is competitive with high resolution spectrographs on other 8 – 10 meter telescopes. It is hoped that this capability will be made available for general use in 2015.

Work is also progressing on the Gemini High resolution Optical specTrograph (`GHOST’). This is the next new instrument, and plans are for it to be delivered to Gemini in 2017. Much of the work on GHOST is being done at NRC Herzberg in Victoria. At the October 2014 meeting of the Science and Technology Advisory Committee (SRAC) it was decided that this instrument will go to Gemini South.

Gemini Science and Users Meeting 2015

Registration is now open for the triennial Gemini Science and Users’ Meeting, to be held in Toronto, 14-18 June 2015. The theme of the meeting is “The Future & Science of Gemini Observatory.” The Abstract and Early Registration (reduced fee) deadlines are both March 4, 2015. For further information on the program, registration, abstract submission, and the venue, please see: http://www.gemini.edu/fsg15

Le Programme «Fast Turnaround» débute bientôt

Un problème avec le processus classique d’attribution du temps par semestres est qu’il peut y avoir un délai important entre une bonne idée pour un programme d’observation et l’obtention des observations au télescope. Le FTP est conçu pour réduire le temps entre la naissance d’une idée et l’acquisition des données. Il est prévu que le premier appel de demandes sera au début de janvier 2015, avec une date limite à la fin du mois. Les programmes acceptés seront actifs au cours de mars-mai 2015. Environ trois nuits par mois seront consacrées aux programmes de FT.

Un problème logistique évident est d’avoir un TAC qui est prêt à examiner les demandes chaque mois. Un nouvel aspect du FTP est que les demandes seront évaluées par les pairs, c’est-a-dire par ceux/celles qui ont appliqué pour ce mois donné. Le CGO a dirigé cet effort en développant les scripts nécessaires, et un essai a été réalisé en avril 2014 avec des PIs/Co-I canadiens passant en revue les demandes des uns et des autres. Le classement des demandes obtenues par ce processus est bien corrélé avec les classements du CanTAC régulier. Ce premier essai a reçu des commentaires extrêmement favorables des utilisateurs canadiens. Le FTP permettra aux astronomes canadiens d’accéder à des cibles d’intérêt avant la compétition.

Nouveaux CCDs Hamamatsu

De nouveaux CCD plus sensibles dans le rouge fabriqués par Hamamatsu Photonics ont été installés dans l’instrument GMOS-Sud en Juin 2014. Ces détecteurs ont grandement amélioré la sensibilité par rapport aux précédents, surtout vers le rouge. L’orientation des détecteurs CCD n’a pas changé, et GMOS-S continue à soutenir les observations en mode IFU et Nod +Shuffle. Le fringing est considérablement réduit pour ces nouveaux détecteurs CCD, mais le taux de rayons cosmiques est plus élevé. A ce jour, les données prises avec les nouveaux détecteurs CCD Hamamatsu doivent être traitées avec un “patch” spéciale de la version du progiciel Gemini IRAF (seulement pour les Hamamatsu, pas pour les données GMOS-N ou GMOS-S prises avec les détecteurs CCD précédentes). Pour plus d’informations, voir: http://www.gemini.edu/?q=node/12227

Nouvelles des futurs instruments

En septembre dernier Gemini a lancé une étude de Faisabilité d’Instrumentation Gemini (« GIFS ») pour développer des idées pour le prochain instrument. Le but de ce processus est de favoriser la création d’ équipes d’astronomes et d’ingénieurs qui généreront un instrument choisi pour ses possibilités scientifiques et qui puisse être réalisé dans les limites des coûts permis par le budget. Cet appel a un calendrier rapide – la requête de propositions a été publiée le 19 septembre et les propositions sont dus le 15 décembre. Plusieurs contrats seront probablement distribués à différentes équipes dans un effort à pousser l‘exploration de différents concepts. La sélection des équipes sera faite en janvier, et les rapports des diverses études seront dus en septembre 2015.

La spectroscopie haute résolution dans le visible est une fonctionnalité intéressante pour les astronomes canadiens mais jusqu’à maintenant n’a pas été disponible à Gemini. Dorénavant les deux sites auront bientôt des capacités spectroscopiques haute résolution. A Gemini Nord un réseau de fibres a été installé qui relie Gemini avec le spectrographe ESPaDOnS au TCFH. Le Spectrographe Gemini pour accès à distance d’ESPaDOnS au TCFH (“GRACES») a été développé au CNRC-Herzberg à Victoria, et a eu une mise en service réussie plus tôt cette année. Les tests sur le ciel ont révélé un débit total du système à partir de 500 nm qui est compétitif avec les spectrographes de haute résolution sur les autres télescopes de 8-10 mètres. Il est à espérer que cette capacité sera disponible pour une utilisation générale en 2015.

Les travaux progressent aussi sur le spectrographe optique de haute résolution de Gemini (« GHOST »). Ce sera le prochain nouvel instrument, et les plans sont de le livrer à Gemini en 2017. Une grande partie des travaux sur GHOST est faite au CNRC- Herzberg à Victoria. Lors de la réunion d’octobre 2014 du Comité consultatif des sciences et de la technologie (STAC) il a été décidé que cet instrument ira à Gemini -Sud.

Réunion de Science et des Utilisateurs Gemini 2015

L’inscription est maintenant ouverte pour la réunion triennale de science et des utilisateurs Gemini, qui se tiendra à Toronto les 14-18 juin 2015. Le thème de la réunion est «L’avenir et la science de l’Observatoire Gemini”. La date limite pour soumettre un résumé et pour une inscription précoce (à tarif réduit) est le 4 mars 2015. Pour de plus amples renseignements sur le programme, l’enregistrement, la soumission des résumés et le lieu, veuillez s’il vous plaît consulter: http://www.gemini.edu/fsg15