Australian Instruments on Gemini

Australia is a world leader in designing and building astronomical instrumentation, and we are currently involved in several current and proposed Gemini instruments.

Australian-built instruments in service at Gemini

    • NIFS

      The Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrograph (NIFS) was built by the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University in conjunction with Auspace Ltd. NIFS was commissioned on the Gemini North telescope in Oct/Nov of 2005, and has been available to the community since Semester 2006B. NIFS enables three-dimensional imaging spectroscopy at a resolution ~5000 from 0.95 to 2.4 microns by slicing up a 3" x 3" field of view into 0.1" pixels, and can be used with the adaptive optics system ALTAIR in both natural and laser guide star modes.

      NIFSNIFS attached to the Cassegrain instrument cluster beneath the primary mirror of the Gemini North telescope. The gold hexagonal structure is the cryostat that keeps the NIFS instument cold to make it more sensitive to infrared (heat) radiation from space. The blue boxes contain the control electronics. Image credit: RSAA.



    • GSAOI

      The Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager (GSAOI) was also built by the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University. GSAOI was shipped to Gemini South in Oct 2006, but commissioning was delayed until the Multi-Conjugate Adaptive Optics (MCAO) system with its powerful 50 W sodium laser was ready. On-sky commissioning of GSAOI began in early-2011. GSAOI is a 16 million pixel infrared camera which can image a patch of sky 80" in diameter, after distortions introduced by the atmosphere are corrected by the MCAO system using three natural guide stars and five artificial laser guide stars. An upgraded wavefront sensor is being developed at ANU to be installed in 2017, which will enable fainter guide stars to be used, as well as significantly reduce the time needed to acquire these guide stars.

      GSAOIGSAOI attached to the Cassegrain instrument cluster beneath the primary mirror of the Gemini South telescope, in the centre of this image. To its right the large blue box houses the Canopus optical bench which does the actual image compensation using deformable mirrors. The large silver container jutting out from the telescope mount at far left contains the 50 W sodium laser whose beam is then relayed by mirrors to a small launch telescope above the secondary mirror, and 90 km up excites sodium atoms and creates 5 artifical guide stars. Image credit: Stuart Ryder.



Future Australian-built instruments for Gemini

  • GHOST

    The AAO, in collaboration with RSAA and NRC Herzberg in Canada are developing the Gemini High-resolution Optical SpecTrograph (GHOST). The AAO consortium proposed a bench-mounted, fibre-fed design that capitalises on their experience with the CYCLOPS lenslet array and fibre feed for the UCLES instrument on the AAT, as well as development of the HERMES multi-object high-resolution spectrograph for the AAT. Commissioning of GHOST on Gemini South is anticipated in 2018.