Major milestone for GPI. The exoplanet camera hunter is mounted on the Gemini South Telescope

Yesterday was a major milestone for the Gemini Planet Imager Project!

Gaston Gausachs, mechanical engineer at Gemini Observatory, sent us this great picture ofGPI, our exoplanet camera hunter, mounted on the Gemini South Telescope. The team reported that it was a flawless and smooth operation.

First picture of GPI mounted on the Gemini South Telescope. (c) Manuel Paredes
First picture of GPI mounted on the Gemini South Telescope. (c) Manuel Paredes

Special delivery for the Gemini South telescope. GPI has arrived!

Special delivery for the Gemini South Telescope: a 2-ton planet imager called GPI (credit: Stephen Goodsell and Gaston Gausachs)
Special delivery for the Gemini South Telescope: a 2-ton planet imager called GPI (credit: Stephen Goodsell and Gaston Gausachs)

Stephen Goodsell, Gemini Instrumentation Manager, surprised most of the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) team on August 16 at 3am when we received in our mailbox his email announcing that GPI  landed to Chile. The crates containing the dismounted instrument (see our previous post) had been loaded in a Boeing 747 from Lan Chile and flew to Lima then Santiago (LA601). After quickly clearing customs, the local GPI team could inspect the crates and determined that they arrived in excellent shape and condition.

Packing a planet imager instrument for a trip to Chile

It is happening! The Gemini Planet Imager has been being dismounted, wrapped, and packed for a long trip to Chile. After so many years working on this project, the entire team shared   the anxiety of the principal investigator, Bruce Macintosh: GPI is going away…

Bruce Macintosh, Principal Investigator of the instrument having a little moment of separation anxiety during the packing.
Bruce Macintosh, Principal Investigator of the instrument having a little moment of separation anxiety during the packing.

After a successful pre-shipping review, the instrument has left UCSC, where it was being integrated and tested, for its new home: the Gemini South Telescope on the top of Cerro Pachon in the Chilean Andes.

GPI is ready for its new location in Chile

It is now official, The Gemini Planet Imager (“Gee-pi”) is ready for shipping to Chile. This decision was taken on July 19 after the positive pre-delivery acceptance review. From its current home at the University of California Santa Cruz, the instrument’s Integral Field Spectrograph (IFS) began its warm-up a week later (July 25th), and the computers were shut-down two days ago (July 31st).

Ifs_install
The Integral Field Spectrograph (the “eye” of GPI) being installed in the GPI instrument (archive picture from 2012)

GPI is going to be carefully packed for a long trip to Chile. The instrument will be shipped to the southern hemisphere by plane and should arrive by the end of August.

A blast from the past – GPI kick-off science meeting March 2 2007

Astronomy is not only about the study of stars, the search for exoplanets, the characteristics of detectors, and the size of telescopes, it is also about human interactions. While digging through my old email for a document, I found this group picture that was taken during our first GPI Science meeting at University of California at Berkeley in 2007.

Group picture from the GPI Kick-off meeting (March 2 2007). From left to right, back: M. Perrin, XXXXX, C. Marois, R. Doyon, X. Song, J. Graham, G. Marcy, G. Serabyn, L. Palmer, R. Makidon, XXXX, F. Marchis, P. Kalas, B. Macintosh
Group picture from the GPI Kick-off meeting (March 2 2007). back row, from left to right: M. Perrin, XXXXX, C. Marois, R. Doyon, M. Shao, J. Graham, G. Marcy, G. Serabyn, L. Palmer, J. Wright, J. Jensen. On the front row, from left to right: F. Marchis, P. Kalas, B. Macintosh

Progress on the GPI exoplanet imager integration

The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a next generation adaptive optics instrument being built for the Gemini Observatory. This is an ambitious project with the goal of directly imaging extrasolar planets orbiting nearby stars. The instrument is currently being integrated at the University of California at Santa Cruz. After more than a year of testing in a fixed orientation in a clean room, on March 7, 2013, the 2,030 kg instrument was set up on a crane and flexure rig. In collaboration with the UCSC team, we prepared this time lapse video showing GPI being set up in its new position.

GPI instrument being set up on its flexure jig mounting (Credit: GPI consortium)

Being in Toronto for the GPI Science Workshop… remotely

The Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey team held a meeting at the University of Toronto June 13-14, 2012. The purpose was to get updated on the hardware and pipeline, anticipating the installation of the instrument at the Gemini South telescope later this year. We also discussed key science contributions we expect GPI to make, in preparation for the first raft of papers from the survey. For instance, I had a 30 minute talk on (1) how the GPI-discovered planets will connect to the populations studied by other techniques, (2) what we’re learning about planetary systems from dynamical investigations and the Kepler space telescope, for placing the anticipated GPI discoveries in context.