Fall 2002 News

From the Division Chief
For the past 6 months we have been working diligently on improving image quality. A major improvement was the replacement of a defective dome chiller. The dome air conditioning system has been improved as well. In addition, new racks were mounted on the telescope, which will house enclosures to remove heat from the instrument electronics. Other work planned includes sealing the dome skirt and shutter to reduce heat input during the day, installation of temperature sensors, and cooling the primary mirror. This work should be done by the end of the year and it should lead to a reduction of the dome seeing.

We have also made great progress on finishing the Adaptive Optics system (AOS). During our May engineering run the AOS was installed, as well as a new instrument spool and new acquisition camera. First light was achieved during this first engineering run and the preliminary results were encouraging. We plan to make this exciting new capability available on a shared risk basis starting in Feb. 2003.

A new item has been added to facilitate the usage of our website. Click on the Site Index or Site Map and see the Observer's Manual with its Table of Contents, where you can find pertinent information for your observing run.

Proposal deadline for Feb. 1 – July 31 2003 due Tuesday, October 1, 2002
Changes have been made to the Time Application form. 1) Only ONE PAGE allowed for the Scientific Justification. 2) Format has been changed from TeX to LaTex. See our web site for instructions. Submit your proposals using this latest version (rev. Aug. 2002).

Adaptive Optics System
We will allow the use of the AOS on a shared risk basis starting in April 2003. Please note the following restrictions: (1) Only one pixel scale with NSFCAM will be supported, the 0.05'/pixel scale. (2) Only NSFCAM will be available for use. (3) There will be no guarantee of having an optimized instrument, and time may be taken away to conduct engineering work if necessary. (4) Only one user program per month can be supported. In spite of these restrictions, we feel working with users at an early stage will be very helpful to achieve good science as quickly as possible.

Information on the AO system may be found on our AO web page.

Changes to NSFCAM
In order to maintain precise alignment between the AO sensor and NSFCAM, we have found it necessary to fix the position of the NSFCAM dichroic which feeds the AOS. Starting from February 1, 2003, the 0.95 µm IR–transmitting/visible reflecting dichroic will be left in the beam. No open position will be available. As a result the average throughput of NSFCAM will fall slightly from about 35% to 32%, and a 0.3% ghost will be created.

Tip–tilt Status
Tip–tilt is currently not available although we hope to fix it sometime within the next few months. Observers should submit proposals that do not require tip–tilt.

Remote Observing Available
Ten remote observing proposals were accepted for the fall 2002 semester. The IRTF probably has the most flexible remote observing policy of any observatory. Remote observing is available from Hale Pohaku, Hilo, or from your office on the mainland. Programs that can benefit from this are those that require frequent or short observations, and programs where one member of the observing team is on site and the other is at his or her home office.

SpexTool Extension
Users of SpeX are familiar with the IDL program names SpexTool that allows quick extraction of spectra from SpeX. Additional programs are now available to provide telluric correction, merging orders, editing and smoothing spectra. These programs can now be downloaded from the SpeX Web site. These programs were written by Mike Cushing and Bill Vacca.

Science Highlights
See the latest IRTF science highlights:

1) IR Specroscopic Montoring of Pluto with SpeX (W. M. Grundy et al.)
2) FeH Absorption in the Spectra of Ultra-Cool Dwarfs (Cushing et al.)
3) Detection of Massive Water Ice Emission from the Nucleus of Comet C/1999 S4 (LINEAR) (C. . Lisse et al.)
4) Detection of H3+ In an HAeBe Star Using CSHELL (Brittain et al.)
5) Groundbased Infrared Detection of Io's SO2 Atmosphere (J. Spencer et al.)