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Spring 2009 News

Last updated 04 March 2009

Proposal Deadline for Semester 2009B (August 1, 2009 - January 31, 2010) is Wednesday, April 1, 2009.

Important Announcement for Applications of Observing Time.
Please review the information and use our new ONLINE application form

Available instruments are listed here. Remote observing is offered from any location with broadband Internet access for any project that utilizes IRTF instruments. Click here for more information.

Telescope Allocation Committee
The current TAC members are Gordon Bjoraker (Goddard), Joshua Emery (U. of Tennessee), Eilat Glikman (Caltech), Luke Keller (Ithaca College), Michael S. Kelley (U. of Central Florida), and Russel White (Georgia State U.). This committee consists of three solar system and three non-solar system members.

Target of Opportunity Observing
We currently have an approved target-of-opportunity proposal to observe Type 1 supernovae at an early stage (within days of being discovered). This has been noted in the letter informing you of your IRTF time allocation. Up to one hour may be requested to allow these observations.

IRTF Spectral Library
Users are encouraged to make use of the spectral library, which is available here. The paper on Cool Stars has been submitted to ApJS and will be posted on the website when accepted for publication. Contact John Rayner for more details.

NEO Spectral Survey
The MIT-IRTF Near-Earth Object spectral survey is underway, and many spectra are publicly available. See the side bar for more information or go to

Personnel Spotlight

Imai Namahoe Imaikalani "Imai" Namahoe, IRTF Electronics Technician, is a member of the day crew who is responsible for maintaining and repairing the electrical systems on the telescope, which includes the telescope guide cameras and the observing instrumentation.
Before joining the IRTF in 1986, Imai worked as an electronic technician on Kauai for Bendix Field Engineering Corp., a subcontractor for NASA, at the top of the Waimea Canyon at Kokee State Park. After 22 years with the IRTF, Imai says he is still very happy to be working "at the top of the world" and to be involved in cutting-edge astronomy. Imai and his wife, Geldine, have three children and two grandchildren. At sea level, Imai enjoys spending time with his grandchildren, surfing, hiking, and working in his yard.

Instrumentation Update

SpeX is working normally. Improvements have been made to IR guiding algorithms, allowing guiding on fainter targets.

Work on upgrading SpeX with a 2048x208 Hawaii-2RG (H2RG) array and new array control electronics is underway. We have been able to pool the award money for ISHELL and the SpeX upgrade to fund a foundry run at Teledyne. We expect the foundtry run to yield two science-quality H2RG spectrograph arrays for ISHELL and SpeX, in addition to a very good engineering-quality H2RG array, which we are planning to use in NSFCAM2. The new array controller will be deployed first in NSFCAM2 in 2010 followed by SpeX one year later. Contact John Rayner for more details.

Eric Tollestrup and Charles Lockhart have upgraded MIRSI, and it is now called MIRSI-2. The most obvious change is a new graphical user interface that has the same look and feel as the facility instrument GUIs. In addition, various hardware, firmware, and software upgrades have made MIRSI more reliable and robust. Phase II of the upgrade, which has the goal of improving the sensitivity, avoiding the fix pattern noise, and eliminate various readout artifacts, has begun. Contact Eric Tollestrup for more details.

This camera has been used on a conditional basis because of the high read-noise, which decreases the sensitivity at JHK. After extensive evaluations, we have determined that the current array should be replaced, and a new array has been ordered. In addition, because of obsolete components, a new set of control electronics will be developed. To check the status of this instrument before writing a proposal, contact Eric Tollestrup. NSFCAM2 is currently best suited for observations in the thermal infrared (3-5 microns), since it is background limited and the image quality is excellent, or where a wide field of view of 0.04 arcsec pixels is required.

New Secondary Mirror:
Eric Tollestrup has obtained an NSF grant to fabricate a new secondary mirror with a surface figure that removes the spherical aberration and other high-order aberrations in the primary mirror. Two new mirrors being figured by Optical Surface Technologies are expected to be delivered by the end of March. Evaluation of the wavefront errors of mirrors will occur on the IRTF in April. Based on these in situ wavefront errors, one mirror will have additional figuring by Ion Beam Polishing to remove as much of the residual wavefront as is practical. This highly corrected, new secondary mirror is scheduled to be commissioned on the IRTF by the Spring 2010 semester.

CSHELL is working normally. The new user GUI is now in regular use. Observing macros written for the old GUI should be tested prior to observing.

CSHELL replacement:
Alan Tokunaga has obtained funding through the NSF Major Research Instrumentation program to build a 1-5 micron cross-dispersed spectrograph to replace CSHELL. There is also significant funding from NASA in support of this new initiative, as well as contributions from IRTF operations and cost sharing through the Univ. of Hawaii. The spectral resolving power of this instrument will be approximately 70,000. A PDF copy of the proposal can be downloaded here. Contact Alan Tokunaga if you have any questions or comments about the proposal. We welcome input from the community on this new major instrument for the IRTF.

Science Highlights and Publications
Our Science Highlights page is updated regularly as we receive the latest highlights from you. These highlights are sent to our funding agencies, NASA and NSF, to keep them abreast of the exciting and useful science obtained at the IRTF. See examples here. Please continue to submit your new publications using the form provided on our website, or send your reprints to William Walters. Please acknowledge the IRTF in your publications following the instructions shown here. It is important that you include in your papers the name of the instrument used and the citation for the instrument, as this helps to insure future funding of IRTF instruments. For AAS publications, please include the facility keyword and instrument, such as IRTF:SpeX. See here for more information.


:: Spring 2016 applications awarded observing time.

:: more

:: Spotlight on Saturn's Aurorae

:: Coordinated observations of ozone on Mars by HIPWAC and Mars Express SPICAM

:: Burgasser Very Cool Brown Dwarf

:: 2009 Jupiter Impact: Second Time Around

:: Ten Years of Triton Spectral Monitoring with IRTF/SpeX.

:: Huge cloud discovered on Titan, 13 August 2009. News articles one and two.

:: Jupiter impact of 19 July 2009. News articles one and two.

:: IRTF observations of H3+ in planetary atmospheres

:: The IRTF Spectral Library: Cool Stars (FGKM-SC-LT)

:: Depth of a Strong Jovian Jet From a Planetary-Scale Disturbance

:: more