Fall 2008 News

Last updated 01 September 2008

Proposal Deadline for Semester 2009A (February 1, 2009 - July 31, 2009) is Wednesday, October 1, 2008.

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 Joshua Emery (U. of Tennessee), Gordon Bjoraker (Goddard), Eilat Glikman (Caltech), Michael S. Kelley (U. of Central Florida), James Muzerolle (U. of Arizona), and Russel White (U. of Alabama). 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.

Spectral Library Available
The SpeX spectral library for FGKMLT stars is available here. The spectra are provided in FITS, text, PDF, and postscript formats. The papers by John Rayner, William Vacca, and Michael Cushing presented at this website should be referenced when this library is used.

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

Instrumentation Update

We are pleased to announce that John Rayner obtained an NSF grant to upgrade SpeX. The current 1024 x 1024 Aladdin 3 InSb array will be replaced by a 2048 x 2048 Hawaii-2RG array and a new array controller. The upgrade will improve sensitivity and increase pixel sampling and wavelength coverage while maintaining resolving power (optics unchanged). It is important that we replace the array controller, which is now a decade old and has limited spares. This work will start this fall and take about two years. Installation and testing will require downtime of up to one semester towards the end of this period.

Eric Tollestrup and Charles Lockhart are upgrading MIRSI. This work should be completed by Oct. 2008. The most obvious change will be a new graphical user interface that will have the same look and feel as the facility instrument GUIs. In addition, various hardware, firmware, and software upgrades will make MIRSI more reliable and robust, as well as improve the sensitivity, improve the fix pattern noise, and eliminate various readout artifacts. 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. Eric Tollestrup and Eric Warmbier are presently tracking down the sources of excess noise. 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.

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. The first objective of this project, which is to fabricate a prime focus instrument package and measure the aberrations, has been completed and a new secondary mirror is presently being fabricated.

The user GUI for CSHELL is being improved so that it has a format similar to that of SpeX. Please note that the macros were changed recently. Users should test their macros before 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 Karan Hughes. 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.