Gemini's Fast Turnaround program is intended to greatly decrease the time from having an idea to acquiring the supporting data. The scheme will offer monthly proposal submission opportunities, and proposals will be reviewed by the principal investigators or co-investigators of other proposals submitted during the same round. Here, we set out the design of the system and outline the plan for its implementation, leading to the launch of a pilot program at Gemini North in January 2015.
The Gemini Observatory is going through an extraordinary time with astronomical instrumentation. New powerful
capabilities are delivered and are soon entering scientific operations. In parallel, new instruments are being planned and
designed to align the strategy with community needs and enhance the competitiveness of the Observatory for the next
decade. We will give a broad overview of the instrumentation program, focusing on achievements, challenges and
strategies within a scientific, technical and management perspective. In particular we will discuss the following
instruments and projects (some will have dedicated detailed papers in this conference): GMOS-CCD refurbishment,
FLAMINGOS-2, GeMS (MCAO system and imager GSAOI), GPI, new generation of A&G, GRACES (fiber feed to
CFHT ESPaDOnS) and GHOS (Gemini High-resolution Optical Spectrograph), and provide some updates about
detector controllers, mid-IR instruments, Altair, GNIRS, GLAO and future workhorse instruments.
We present a determination of the change with temperature and wavelength of the degree of birefringence of a cold (~30 K) Wollaston prism constructed from antireflection (AR)–coated sulfur-free cadmium selenide (CdSe). We compare the normalized birefringence for the material to that estimated by the Sellmeier-4 formula and to previously published measurements of a warm sample of sulfur-free CdSe. Finally, we measure the transmission as a function of wavelength.
Ground-based mid-infrared (mid-IR) observations appear to be widely perceived as esoteric and demanding, and
very sensitive to observing conditions. Although the principles of observing in the background-limited regime
are well-known, it is difficult for the non-specialist to find specific information on exactly how mid-IR data can
be affected by environmental conditions. Understanding these effects is important for the efficiency of mid-IR
queue observing, the ability of classical observers to adapt their programs to the prevailing conditions, and the
standard of data being delivered. Through operating mid-IR instruments in the queue at Gemini we have amassed
a considerable database of standard star observations taken under a wide range of atmospheric conditions and in
a variety of instrumental configurations. These data can be used to illustrate the effect of factors such as water
vapour column, airmass, cloud cover, etc. on observed quantities like raw sky background, residual background,
atmospheric transmission and image FWHM. Here we present some preliminary results from this study, which we
hope to be of use to observatory users and staff as a guide to which environmental conditions are truly important
to mid- IR imaging observations, and which can safely be neglected.
CanariCam is the facility mid-infrared (MIR) instrument for the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), a 10.4m
telescope at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma. One of the science drivers for CanariCam is the study of active galactic nuclei (AGN). We will exploit the instrument's high sensitivity in imaging,
spectroscopy, and polarimetry modes to answer fundamental questions of AGN and their host galaxies. Dust in
the nucleus of an active galaxy reprocesses the intrinsic radiation of the central engine to emerge in the MIR.
Current work demonstrates that the hot dust immediately associated with the AGN, which blocks direct views of
the AGN from some lines of sight, is confined to small (parsec) scales. Thus, high spatial resolution is essential to
probe the "torus" of unified AGN models separate from the host galaxy. CanariCam provides a 0.08" pixel scale
for Nyquist sampling the diffraction-limited point spread function at 8μm, and narrow (0.2") spectroscopy slits
(with R=120-1300). New observations with the GTC/CanariCam will provide key constraints on the physical
conditions in the clumpy torus, and we will sensitively determine AGN obscuration as a function of nuclear
activity. We will therefore address the fueling process and its relationship to the torus, the interaction with the
host galaxy, and dust chemistry. These data will be essential preparation for the next generation of telescopes
that will observe the distant universe directly to explore galaxy and black hole formation and evolution, and the
GTC/CanariCam system uniquely provides multiple modes to probe AGN.