New Website

Welcome to the new website for the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility. We are in the process of re–designing our site. Please note that we are still working in the transition process, so sections of the site may look different. We hope you enjoy the new website and send any comments, suggestions or bug reports to our web developer.


If you are experiencing difficulties with the new site, please notify us and use the old version in the meanwhile.

Spring 2004 News

Proposal Deadline for August 2004–January 2005
Fall 2004 semester observing proposals are due on Thursday, April 1. See instructions, current application form, and list of instruments. The TAC will review telescope applications for the fall 2004 semester on May 12, and time awards will be announced by July 1. Remote observing from any location will be supported.

Telescope Allocation Committee
Many thanks to Drs. David Osip and William Graham, who served on the IRTF TAC for the last four semesters (spring 2002–fall 2003). Drs. Martha Hanner (U. Mass., Amherst) and Michael Brotherton (U. Wyoming) are the new members whose terms begin this spring. Click here for the full membership list.

The IRTF 36–element adaptive optics system will be available on a shared-risk basis from November 2004-January 2005. For details, please contact Eric Tollestrup or John Rayner. We are also upgrading NSFCAM with a 2048x2048 array. People planning to use either the adaptive optics system or NSFCAM should review the information here.

Science highlights
NASA Headquarters requested 10–micron observations to support the flyby of the StarDust spacecraft past Comet Wild 2 to determine if dust production had changed since the last thermal observations in 1997. Observations were made December 13–15, 2004, and they showed that the dust production had not changed. The IRTF observations combined with astrometric observations made with one of the Keck telescopes enabled NASA to minimize the flyby distance on January 2, 2004. As a result, the flyby was very successful. (See the StarDust web site and the IRTF science highlights for details.)

Image quality
Work continues on improving image quality under the direction of Eric Tollestrup and Tim Bond. Recent accomplishments include sealing the dome, turning on the environment monitoring system (temperature, wind, humidity), and completing the mirror cooling system. In addition, autofocus software has been developed and is being tested. After further testing, we will allow this software to be used by the telescope operators. They will focus the telescope for users and provide quantitative data on the seeing.