Fall 2005 News

Proposal Deadline for February 1 – July 31, 2006
Spring 2006 semester observing proposals are due on Monday, October 3, 2005. See the information and application form in the sidebar under “Applications.” The most current application form, last revised August 2004, must be used. A summary of instruments can be found at The TAC will review telescope applications on November 7, and time awards will be announced before January 1, 2006. Remote observing from any location will be supported.

Telescope Allocation Committee
Daniel Britt (U. of Central Florida) and Daniel Jaffe (U. of Texas) have rotated off the TAC after serving from fall 2003 through spring 2005. New members, Ellen Howell (Arecibo Obs.) and Jeff Valenti (STScI), will serve from fall 2005 through spring 2007. See full membership here.

9P/Tempel 1 Observations in Support of the Deep Impact Mission
The Deep Impact mission designed to probe the interior of a comet by crashing a 370 kg copper mass into the nucleus of comet Tempel 1 on July 3, 2005, (Hawaii time) was a success. An observing campaign at the IRTF was implemented using SpeX, MIRSI, CSHELL and visitor instruments HIFOGS and BASS. During the night of the impact, SpeX was used to obtain high time resolution spectroscopy at 1–2.5 microns. This provided unique data on color changes right after the impact. We plan to make all of the data public in about 6 months.

Instrumentation Update
(1) NSFCAM2, with a 2048x2048 array, is presently being readied for commissioning. We are preparing for the first commissioning run in September. For more information, please see the NSFCAM web page or contact Eric Tollestrup (

(2) Adaptive Optics System. We have had to postpone work on the 36–element adaptive optics system due to problems with obtaining a suitable deformable mirror and a lack of sufficient manpower. We are currently planning to replace our secondary mirror with one that is configured to correct the spherical aberration of the primary mirror. This will eliminate the largest source of wave–front error that is limiting the performance of our AO system and provide improved images for all of our instruments. With our limited manpower, this work requires us to put current work on our AO system on hold.

(3) Boston University's Mid–InfraRed Spectrometer and Imager (MIRSI) is available for use on the IRTF for the next five years, effective July 2005, due to a Memorandum of Agreement between the University of Hawaii and Boston University. The agreement includes future work on MIRSI that will improve the sensitivity and operations. Those interested in using MIRSI can find more information here and are encouraged to contact either James Jackson (Boston Univ.) or Eric Tollestrup (IRTF).

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. Please keep submitting your recent publications using the form provided on our web site, or send them to Ms. Karan Hughes ( Please acknowledge the IRTF in your publications using the information on our acknowledgement page.

Telescope Control System
Work on replacing the telescope control system is proceeding. We have installed some of the new hardware and software at the summit and are using it on a daily basis. Current work is focused on testing the servo system and finishing the remaining hardware.

Remote Observing
Spring 2005 was the first semester in which 50% of the total observing time scheduled on the IRTF was remote observing. Saving travel time and money makes remote observing an appealing choice, but first–time observers are required to be on–site for their run.