GeminiFocus April 2019 - Page 3

Jennifer Lotz Director’s Message Riding the Waves to New Heights at Gemini It’s been an interesting few months at Gemini, especially between facing the challenges of the US government shutdown and a significant earthquake in Chile. We’ve also interacted with the community at the American Astronomical Society and Korean User meetings, while making continued progress on adaptive optics (AO), time-domain astronomy, and visiting instrument initiatives. Despite the ups and downs of the past few months, Gemini Observatory and our users have continued to collect photons and produce amazing science, as evidenced in Science Highlights starting on page 8 of this issue. With Gemini, astronomers have confirmed the age and distance of one of the oldest star clusters in our Galaxy; measured the size of the trans-Neptunian object Varth, and calculated the mass of the brightest quasar detected at a redshift greater than 5. On January 19th, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake (with an epicenter just 60 kilometers southwest of Cerro Pachón) rocked Gemini South. This major shake-up occurred during a GeMS/GSAOI run, with a number of staff on the summit running the multi-conjugate adaptive optics laser system. Fortunately, we had no injuries at the summit or La Serena Base Facility. Gemini engi- neering and base facility leads responded very quickly and found no major damage at either site. The engineering team also completed a systematic evaluation of the telescope and found that the earthquake had affected several actuators on the primary mirror, which they success- fully replaced. Thanks to our efficient team, Gemini South was back on sky, making science observations just five days after the earthquake. On March 13th, Gemini North experienced its own 5.5-magnitude earthquake, ceasing telescope operations for the night. After a similar checkout by the day crew, Gemini North was up and running the next night. In February, I was able to visit Korea for the first time to attend the K-GMT Program Users Meet- ing, which was held over two and a half days at the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) in Daejeon. The event featured many fabulous talks by the Korean astronomy commu- nity. I was particularly impressed by the excellent student presentations. Korean astronomers have been conducting exciting research at both at both Gemini and the Multi-Mirror Telescope April 2019 GeminiFocus 1