Scientific Priorities and Scheduling of the UK Infrared Telescope in the Eight-Meter Era
The UK Infrared Telescope is the world’s largest facility dedicated solely to infrared observations. Its position at the summit of Mauna Kea provides some of the best infrared observing conditions in the world, but it is still the case that scheduling flexibility provides very clear benefits in terms of program completion and appropriate use of telescope time. This article will review the current scheduling of UKIRT, describe the more pervasive use of flexible scheduling to be implemented in 2003, and discuss the scheduling of operations once UKIRT moves into partly wide-field infrared survey work in 2003/4.
While specialized uses of the telescope offer potential for important scientific discovery, traditional observing capabilities need to be sustained for the ongoing and future research programs of a majority of the consortium astronomers and students, a large and diverse community. Determining the appropriate balance between the “unique and specialized” versus the “bread-and-butter” observing models is discussed, as is the role hands-on remote observing can play in support of the various paradigms.
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