CTIO  >  CTIO Instrumentation



June 2007

        Every six months, via the NOAO Time Assignment process, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory offers to the community 90% of the time on the Blanco 4-m Telescope, 30% of the time on the SOAR 4-m telescope, and 25% of the time on four smaller telescopes that are operated by the SMARTS Consortium.   The available time on the Blanco will be 10% lower during the period 2006B - 2009A ias we execute operations partnerships that are necessary to keep the above telescopes operating at state-of-the-art level for US astronomers. Given the new committment to existing NOAO facilities from the NSF and NOAO, as a result of the Senior Facilities Review, these operations partnerships will not be renewed after they expire.   Prospective users can write an integrated science proposal that asks for time on any of the CTIO, KPNO and Gemini telescopes, and additionally for community access time on the Keck I & II, Magellan Baade & Clay, the MMT and the HET.   There are also opportunities to specify NOAO telescopes in support of HST, Chandra and Spitzer Proposals, while large multi-year projects can propose for NOAO Surveys Program time.   All these opportunities are described at http://www.noao.edu/gateway/propinfo.html. At proposal time, this WWW site should be visited for up to date information on instrumentation availability.

        The CTIO telescopes are located at one of the best observing sites in the world, and offer access to the southern hemisphere skies.   We here summarize the instrumentation available on these telescopes, and describe the exciting new instruments coming to these telescopes over the next few years.


        We offer the following three wide-field instruments that exploit the one degree diameter corrected field at both prime (f/2.7) and RC (f/8) foci:  Mosaic 8K CCD imager, ISPI 2K IR Imager, Hydra fiber-fed Multi-object spectrograph.    Until the SOAR Telescope and Goodman high-throughput spectrograph are in regular operation (see below) we will also offer the RC spectrograph.  These instruments are fully described in http://www.ctio.noao.edu/  in the section “Telescopes and Instruments”.


        SOAR has ramped up science time to 50% in 2007, and started classical observing. Observations are centered on New Moon, with the remainder of the time used for engineering. The instruments presently available are the SOAR Optical Imager, the OSIRIS IR imaging spectrometer. The Goodman spectrograph and the SPARTAN IR Imager are soon expected to be in commissioning.  The most important characteristics of these instruments are summarized at http://www.soartelescope.org/release/06observing/eng_observing/instruments/main_instruments.html .


        The SMARTS Consortium (see  http://www.astro.yale.edu/smarts/ ) operates the CTIO 1.5-m, 1.3-m, 0.9-m and the Yale 1.0-m telescope, with a variety of instrumentation and operational modes to enable projects, both large and small scale, by consortium partners and NOAO users.   SMARTS is always on the look-out for new partners, if you have a funded science project and/or an exciting instrument to offer the consortium, please contact SMARTS Principal Scientist Charles Bailyn (bailyn@astro.yale.edu) . The available instruments are described at http://www.ctio.noao.edu/telescopes/smarts.html .


        Two major new instruments for the Blanco are in the pipeline.  NEWFIRM is a wide field IR imager that will be shared between the Mayall and the Blanco, with cycle time 1-2 years.   NEWFIRM will be commisisioned at the Mayall in 2007, and thus could appear at the Blanco in 2010.  The Dark Energy Camera (DECam) is an ultra-wide field CCD imager being built for the Blanco prime focus by a Fermilab-led consortium.   In exchange for DECam and a data pipeline NOAO has agreed to grant the consortium 30% of Blanco time over 2011-2015 for the Dark Energy Survey.  All the data from this survey will be publicly available, after 12 months proprietary period.  The project pages for these instruments are respectively found at http://www.noao.edu/ets/newfirm/ and http://www.darkenergysurvey.org/ .


        SOAR will complete its first-generation instrumentation with the delivery of the Spartan IR Imager and the IFU spectrograph SIFS. See http://www.soartelescope.org/release/06observing/eng_observing/instruments/main_instruments.html

It is also planned to share the high-resolution IR spectrograph Phoenix with Gemini South, and later take delivery of the SOAR Adaptive Module, SAM, see http://www.ctio.noao.edu/new/Telescopes/SOAR/Instruments/SAM/ , which will correct for ground-layer turbulence and be able to feed either an imager or a visitor instrument port.  STELES is a beam-fed high resolution optical spectrograph, see http://www.lna.br/~steles/ , both SAM and STELES are expected to be delivered in the 2008-2010 timeframe.


Alistair Walker


  CTIO  >  CTIO Instrumentation