GeminiFocus April 2017 | Page 3

Markus Kissler-Patig Director’s Message Gemini’s Future Beyond 2021: a consensus vision emerges with prospects for a new center for optical-infrared astronomy. Over the last two years, the Gemini partners have been discussing the future of the Gemini Observatory. For the timeframe 2016–2021 (the length of the current International Agree- ment) the Gemini Board had given Operational Guidelines to the Observatory ( viewable here — issued in June 2015). For the decade beyond 2021, after consultation with the various stakeholders and the community (see editorial, October 2016 issue) the Gemini Board has now issued a Strategic Vision. The four recommendations to the Observatory are as follows: 1. Beyond 2021, Gemini should exploit its geographical location and agile operational mod- el in order to be the premiere facility for the follow-up investigation of targets identified by the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. 2. Beyond 2021, a significant fraction of the time on the telescopes should remain focused on Principal Investigator-driven science. 3. Beyond 2021, Gemini should be viewed as the premiere hosting facility for visitor instru- ments whose scope and ambition may be comparable to that of the ‘facility-class‘ instru- ments. 4. Beyond 2021, direction of the two Gemini telescopes should be allowed to diverge. The Observatory is now charged to develop, by the end of 2018, a Strategic Plan following these recommendations. The goal is to develop a path that will retain Gemini scientifically productive, relevant, exciting, and at the forefront of ground-based observational astrono- my — in an era that will be dominated by other ground- and space-based facilities, includ- ing the Extremely Large Telescopes; a challenging task that we are happy to accept. In parallel, over the last 18 months, the Association of Universities for Research in Astron- omy (AURA) and National Science Foundation (NSF) have been in discussions about how to maximize the scientific return of NSF investment in optical-infrared night-time facilities April 2017 GeminiFocus 1