Workshop Goals

The NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) will host a workshop to seek input from the astronomical community on the future directions of the facility. The workshop will be held at Biosphere 2 in Tucson on 12-14 February 2018.

The IRTF is a 3.0-meter infrared telescope located at an altitude of approximately 13,600 feet near the summit of Maunakea on the island of Hawaii. The available IRTF observing time is open to the entire astronomical community, with 50% of the time reserved for observations of solar system objects and the balance for observations outside the solar system. NASA established the IRTF in 1979 primarily to provide infrared observations in support of NASA's missions, in particular the Voyager mission to the outer planets. NASA’s strategy in operating a dedicated, ground-based observatory continues to be the support of NASA’s missions and science goals.

The IRTF is managed and funded by the Planetary Science Division for NASA. Since 2014, the IRTF has been fully funded by the Near-Earth Object (NEO) Observations Program and the facility is an important asset for NEO physical characterization to support the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO), which can schedule interrupts of observing time for characterization of high interest NEOs. Although time allocation and program balance remain unchanged for the IRTF, the planetary defense mission area is an important consideration in NASA’s strategic planning for the IRTF.

We seek input on ways to use IRTF to do new and improved science through improvements to the telescope, new instrumentation and potential new ways of operating the telescope. Your input in the form of talks, posters, and discussion sessions will be used to explore possible future directions, to prepare white papers for input into the upcoming planetary and astrophysics decadal reviews, and to inform plans through and beyond the lease that ends in 2033 for operations of all the Maunakea telescopes.

An outline of potential future capabilities resulting from in-house IRTF discussions is viewable here. This discussion can serve as a starting point for the workshop. It is focused on upgrades to the existing 3-m telescope and new instrumentation.


03/08/2018: Group photo posted.

02/08/2018: Welcome instructions and restaurants guide posted.

02/08/2018: Remote participation instructions posted.

02/07/2018: Agenda with abstract links posted.

02/05/2018: List of current registrants posted.

02/02/2018: Final schedule posted (updated 02/08)

12/15/2017: Workshop registration and accomodation reservation links opened

11/06/2017: Document State of IRTF posted

10/06/2017: First announcement distributed

10/04/2017: Web site opened

Scientific Organizing Committee

The Scientific Organizing Committee is composed of Vishnu Reddy (LPL; Chair), Christoph Baranec (UH), Joan Najita (NOAO), Lisa Prato (Lowell Obs), Geronimo Villanueva (GSFC), Leslie Young (SwRI, Boulder). Ex Officio members are Kelly Fast (IRTF Program Scientist, NASA HQ), Hashima Hasan and Mario Perez (NASA Astrophysics), John Rayner (IRTF Director).


  • 04 October 2017: First Announcement
  • 26 January 2018: Biosphere 2 Room Reservation Deadline
  • 02 February 2018: Final Schedule Posted
  • 12-14 February 2018: Workshop in Biosphere 2-Tucson
  • T.B.D.: White Paper Contribution Deadline


A total of 65 people have registered. We made a group picture.


The meeting will be held at Biosphere 2, "A must see wonder of the world", which is located about 25 miles north of Tucson, Arizona. In addition to conference facilities B2 also offers accommodation and catering. Please book your room and meals before January 26 following this link . Payment is required upon check-in. Note that the nearest restaurants are about 5 miles away. Please read these welcome instructions for a smooth arrival.

Scientific Program

The final schedule is posted here. Click on the titles for abstracts. The agenda consists of invited talks of 15 minutes (+5 minutes for discussion) followed by a number of 7 (+3) minute contributed talks on similar topics. Each topical block ends with a 45 minute discussion. The workshop finishes after a discussion about deliverables.

The submitted workshop presentation PDFs are posted here.

Remote Participation

Remote participation is available. The instructions are available here.

Contact Information

For inquiries, please contact John Rayner at john.thornton.rayner at gmail dot com.