Two up, two down

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There must be some kind of rule of balance with astronomy projects. No sooner have Herschel and Planck got on their way, but Spitzer runs out of cryogens. This means that two of it’s three instruments are now permanently dead. One of them, IRAC, can carry on, limited to just two of its four channels, but there’s great science to be done with this new mode. I know my colleagues in the SERVS project, one of several large scale legacy programmes for this new ‘warm’ mode, are raring to go.

Meanwhile I’m at the joint Gemini/Subaru conference in Kyoto, Japan. It was just announced here that WFMOS, a giant and highly capable multi-object optical spectrograph planned for Gemini, has been cancelled as it’s just too expensive for the current climate. Only one of the instruments from the much vaunted ‘Aspen Instrumentation Process’ will now be built. This can’t be considered a success for Gemini or for the Aspen process.

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2 Responses to “Two up, two down”

  1. Tom Womack Says:

    So, what did Aspen end up defining? I can’t find a good summary website, I can find some early papers suggesting

    * High-resolution coronagraph (called GPI, NASA funding, fairly clearly still being built)

    * High-resolution near-IR spectrometer for planet-searching around M dwarfs (called PRVS, still seemed to exist in the June 2007 newsletter and in the October 2007 meeting of the Oversight Council)

    * Wide-field fibre-fed spectrograph (called WFMOS, just cancelled)

    * More sophisticated wide-field adaptive optics (called GLAO, little sign of it, June 2007 newsletter suggested that the wavefront sensors didn’t yet exist)

  2. Dave Says:

    Yes, I think that’s the list. All big, ambitious instruments that would make a major impact. Of these, the only clear survivor is GPI, though GLAO may be lurching along (it wasn’t entirely clear from the talks what was happening with GLAO).

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