Call for Proposals for the
NASA Infrared Telescope Facility

DEADLINE: Monday 02 April 2018

NASA Infrared Telescope Facility Observing Proposals. The due date for the 2018B semester (August 1, 2018 to January 31, 2019) is Monday, April 2, 2018. See our online submission form, which is available for proposal submission from 12:00AM on March 01, 2018 until 5:00PM on April 02, 2018 HST.

Available facility instruments include:

(1) SpeX, a 0.7 – 5.3 micron cross-dispersed medium-resolution spectrograph (up to R=2,500) and imager. The 0.8 micron cut-on dichroic was replaced with a 0.7 micron dichroic during semester 2017A. This will increase the spectral wavelength grasp for optically guided solar system targets. Sub-arrays are working again in the IR guider.

(2) MORIS, a 512x512 pixel Andor CCD camera (60"x60" field-of-view) mounted at the side-facing window of the SpeX cryostat that can be used simultaneously with SpeX.

(3) iSHELL, a 1.06 – 5.3 micron cross-dispersed echelle spectrograph (up to R=75,000) and imager. Wedged order-sorting filters are being procured to remove slight fringing in the spectra but due to delays in procurement these will not be available until 2019A at the earliest (the vendor is not tax compliant with the IRS). For semester 2018B we are limiting the number of proposals requiring radial velocity precisions less than about 100 m/s since the results from commissioning runs are still being analyzed and the limiting precision is not yet know. Following the discovery that when operated at 80 K the silicon immersion grating is transparent down to 1.05 microns, a new observing mode (J0) has been added to cover the He I line at 1.08 microns. The data reduction tool for iSHELL is now available; it is part of the Spextool package:

(4) MIRSI/MOC, a 5 – 20 micron camera and grism spectrograph. MIRSI was recently upgraded by IR Labs with a closed-cycle cooler to replace its liquid nitrogen and liquid helium cryostat. It is currently being further refurbished by IRTF with a new array controller and an optical channel similar to MORIS (MOC) with a 60"x60" field-of-view. For 2018B we are offering MIRSI and MOC in shared risk mode for the final two months of 2018B (December 2018 and January 2019). A new chopping secondary mirror should also be available for use with MIRSI. Remote observing will be available with MIRSI and MOC.

Information on available instruments and performance can be found at: Exposure time calculators for SpeX and iSHELL are available on the respective instrument webpages.

PI-led visitor instruments (available on a collaborative basis with the instrument team) include: TEXES (5-20 micron high-resolution spectrograph; contact Tommy Greathouse at for more information), BASS (3-14 micron spectrometer; contact Jon Mauerhan at for more information), and HIPWAC (7-17 micron heterodyne spectrograph; contact Tim Livengood at for more information).

Following feedback from the IRTF TAC, investigators are asked to make a clear statement about the connection between the proposed observations and the overall science goal. It is important to concisely articulate the big science picture. Be specific about the number of targets needed, and for continuing proposals, what is needed for the program to be considered complete. Figures need to be legible - no small print. Target visibility plots are not required. We encourage proposals that will provide data for thesis work. The student should be listed as PI or at least as Co-I. You will be asked to provide details of the thesis on the proposal form including the anticipated year of graduation.

Observers may apply for Target of Opportunity (ToO) programs on IRTF, but the total time that can be allocated to ToO programs is 12 hours for Solar System and 12 hours for non-Solar System proposals. The proposal must clearly define the criteria by which a ToO interrupt would be initiated. Time for ToO interrupts will be taken from scheduled, non-time critical observing programs. Programs affected by ToO interrupts will be offered make-up time from Director Discretionary Time (engineering time) when possible.

Remote observing is available with SpeX, MORIS, and iSHELL, and with MIRSI and MOC as shared risk. Requests for remote observing must be made in the proposal application – later requests will be considered if requested at least one month ahead of time. If you wish to observe from your home institution, you must comply with the requirements for video conferencing and instrument operation provided on the Remote Observers Information page. (A working three-button mouse is required.) Observers are strongly encouraged to contact Miranda Hawarden-Ogata ( to set up a test of the video link and user interface at least one month prior to their observing run. We cannot guarantee a successful remote observing connection on short notice since we have no control of hardware and software compatibility on the user’s side. It is the responsibility of the PI to provide up to date observing contact information.

To keep our bibliography up to date, and to ensure future funding of the IRTF, we ask that you send us citations to your latest IRTF publications. You can check your publications using our website bibliography page for refereed papers:

Please send any missing references to Bobby Bus (, and please continue to include in your paper the acknowledgement to the IRTF and the name of the instrument used as described at:

We are in the process of compiling a list of PhD Dissertations that have utilized observations obtained with the IRTF. If you (or your student) has written a dissertation based on IRTF data that is not yet included in this list, please send the appropriate information (including a web link to the dissertation, if possible) to Bobby Bus (

Comet 46P/Wirtanen Observing Campaign
The apparition of Comet Wirtanen in 2018 represents an excellent opportunity to characterise this potential spacecraft target. The comet will be close to opposition and near perihelion in mid-December 2018. Comet Wirtanen will be very favorably positioned for IRTF observations during 2018B and is predicted to be bright (V~6). A minimum of 150 hours of IRTF observing time will be allocated for this campaign. All data obtained will be made public (within one week), and observing logs will be requested for archiving. We encourage observing groups to form collaborations to enhance the scientific return from the observations. All Comet Wirtanen proposals will be considered part of the observing campaign. When submitting a proposal, please note clearly that the proposal is submitted for the campaign. Groups with visitor instruments can participate in the campaign so long as the data and observing logs are allowed to be public.

For more information on the 2018 apparition and community plans for observing Comet Wirtanen visit the website:

Important Notice: A new policy regarding the public archiving of IRTF data has been put in place, effective Aug. 1, 2016. Raw data files taken with SpeX beginning Aug. 1, 2016, and with iSHELL beginning Feb. 1, 2017, will be made publicly available via an online archive after a proprietary period of 18 months from the date of observation. As part of the archive process, the abstract field on the proposal form has been increased to 300 words. This abstract should now include summaries of both the scientific and technical justifications for the observing program, and will be preserved as part of the public archive.

On Dec. 1, 2017 we announced that IRTF data for the years 2001 to 2016 would be made available on request following a proprietary period of 18 months, i.e. ‘legacy’ data will be available from June 1, 2019. Requests for to prepare data for download must be made to IRTF staff, and will be handled as time permits.

Further information can be viewed on the IRTF Data Archive Policy page or by contacting Bobby Bus (