News

MuSCAT3 installation

Jul 8, 2020

MuSCAT3 multi-channel imager

The 2020B semester began on July 1. To those of you who are new to LCO: Welcome! I hope that your observations are successful. If you'd like assistance with your observation requests, please consult the "Getting Started" guide for information on the Observation Portal; consult the "Developers" pages for information on LCO APIs. If you have questions, email our Science Support team.

The Network Status page indicates how the network has been diminished by the COVID-19 pandemic. In Chile, our telescopes are not available for science observations because CTIO is closed. In Texas, the 1-meter telescope in Dome B and the NRES unit are offline. The timeline for restoring those facilities depends on the availability of the (already overburdened) support staff at McDonald Observatory and our ability to travel.

One of the exciting developments planned for the 2020B semester is the introduction of the MuSCAT3 multi-channel imager. MuSCAT3 will replace the Spectral imager on the 2-meter telescope at Haleakala Observatory. A description of MuSCAT3 and an outline of the Spectral-to-MuSCAT3 transition are provided on the LCO website. The installation of MuSCAT3 is planned for early September. Although that is two months away, I encourage those of you with science programs that require 2-meter imaging observations to read the Transition page. Some important elements of the transition are the following:

  • When installation begins, imaging observations with the 2-meter telescope at Haleakala will be suspended for approximately 6 weeks.
  • During the Science Validation phase, MuSCAT3 observations may be granted (by the LCO director) to critical monitoring or rapid response science programs. PIs must request the director's approval for these observations.
  • Observations with the FLOYDS spectrograph will be suspended during the MuSCAT installation phase (approximately 1 week). Following installation, FLOYDS will be available for science observations on nights when commissioning and science validation observations are not being conducted.
  • The removal of the Spectral imager from the Haleakala telescope introduces asymmetry to LCO's 2-meter imaging capability. MuSCAT3 will image targets in the north; the Spectral imager on the Siding Spring telescope will image targets in the South. PIs are responsible for submitting observation requests for MuSCAT3 for northern targets and Spectral for southern targets.
  • When MuSCAT3 shared risk observations begin, any 2020B proposals that have not previously identified a preference between MuSCAT3 and Spectral will have their 2-meter imaging hours evenly split between the instruments. PIs are responsible for notifying the Science Support team if the split should be modified.

Further details are available on the Transition page. We will keep you updated on the installation schedule as the start date approaches.

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