NASA Exoplanet GO Proposals for the WIYN 3.5-m Telescope

Proposals Invited for WIYN in 2015B

NASA and NSF have entered into a Partnership for Exoplanet Research to support community use of the NOAO share of WIYN telescope time. This new NASA-NSF Exoplanet Observational Research (NN-EXPLORE) program seeks to advance our understanding of exoplanets and exoplanetary systems in areas of mutual interest to both agencies.

On behalf of that partnership, NOAO hereby requests observing proposals for the 2015B semester on the WIYN telescope that are targeted to general exoplanet-related research, with particular emphases on follow-up observations of Kepler and K2 exoplanet-related targets, and observations in preparation for the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission. The scope of the NN-EXPLORE Program includes observations to:

  • Confirm or validate exoplanet candidates;
  • Characterize known exoplanets and exoplanetary systems;
  • Characterize the (exozodiacal) dust environments of exoplanet-hosting or potentially-exoplanet-hosting stars;
  • Explore the formation, evolution, and diversity of exoplanetary systems

Stellar observations such as spectroscopy and imaging to characterize stellar properties and search for background eclipsing binaries fall within the scope of the NN-EXPLORE Program, providing the relevance of the proposed work to the exoplanet-research focus of the program is clearly established.

The 2015B semester is the first of this new program, and will serve as a pathfinder in anticipation of a continuing partnership in FY2016 and FY2017, should the budgets allow. In 2015B, exoplanet researchers are invited to propose to use existing instrumentation (described below) for classical observing at WIYN. Proposals with highly restrictive time or date constraints will not be considered, nor will half-nights be allocated in this initial call. Post-observing support is limited; only the One Degree Imager (ODI) currently has a science pipeline. Data handbooks or IRAF reduction packages are available for the other instruments.

Limited funding support, sufficient to cover travel, modest research expenses, and publications costs, will be provided by NASA to observers under the NN-EXPLORE Program. The amount of funding will be determined formulaically based on the number of awards and the available funding. Proposals must provide an explicit justification for the relevance of the proposed observations to the scientific goals of the Program. Proposals that fall outside the scope of the Program will not be eligible to receive Guest Observer funding.

For the 2015B semester, the NOAO share of WIYN will be available for the exoplanet program, depending on the time requested and the quality of proposals. Exoplanet related proposals will be reviewed and selected by a special panel of the NOAO Time Allocation Committee (TAC). Proposals for non-exoplanet research will be accepted in 2015B as well. These will be reviewed by the regular TAC, and approved proposals will be eligible for scheduling if there is time available after the approved exoplanet proposals are scheduled. There will be no Guest Observer funding for non-exoplanet proposals that are granted time on the telescope.

Proposals should be submitted using the standard NOAO Observing Proposal Form by selecting "NASA Exoplanet TAC (WIYN 3.5m)" as the proposal type on the login page. Proposals will be reviewed during the NOAO TAC Meetings and results will be announced in mid-June 2015. Proposals for 2015B are due by 11:59pm MST on March 31, 2015.

Instruments offered at WIYN in 2015B (see current status and more information on the WIYN status page at

  • Hydra is a multi-object fiber positioner for ~100 fibers over a 60 arcmin field. It feeds the Bench Spectrograph. Hydra currently offers 90 red fibers (diameter 2.0 arcsec) or 83 blue fibers (diameter 3.1 arcsec) and has 10 Field Orientation Probes (FOPS) for guiding.
  • Integral field units (IFUs) include SparsePak, HexPak, and GradPak. SparsePak contains 82 fibers that are 5 arcsec on the sky and arranged in a dense core surrounded by a sparse array. HexPak and GradPak are the world's first variable pitch IFUs, designed to sample the brightest parts of galaxies with small fibers (0.94 arcsec) and the fainter parts with larger fibers (5.6 arcsec). All IFUs feed the Bench Spectrograph. SparsePak is a facility instrument, but HexPak and GradPak are P.I. instruments. Prospective proposers should contact the P.I. (Matthew Bershady) at See the WIYN status page for details.
  • The fiber-fed Bench Spectrograph is configurable from low (R~800) to high (R~25,000) spectral resolution covering windows over the full optical band, 350 - 1000 nm.
  • ODI provides high spatial resolution imaging over a wide field that takes full advantage of WIYN's excellent delivered image quality. ODI is an optical imager with 0.11 arcsec pixels, currently being upgraded to a 40 x 40 arcmin field of view. For 2015B, it will be offered pending this upgrade. The exact focal plane configuration will be available after commissioning in July. There will be a measure of shared-risk as this will be the first semester after the upgrade. Please refer to the WIYN-ODI web pages for updates as commissioning progresses. The current full field of view filter set includes SDSS g', r', i' and z', with plans to add u'. The upgraded ODI will remain capable of using the Mosaic camera filter set, resulting in a field of view of about 20'x20'.
  • The WIYN High Resolution Infrared Camera (WHIRC) is a near infrared imager with a 3.3 arcmin field of view and 0.1 arcsec pixels. Filters available for use include J, H, Ks, and 10 narrowbands. WHIRC can be used in conjunction with the fast tip-tilt guider, WTTM.
  • DSSI (Differential Speckle Survey Instrument, built by Elliott Horch, SCSU) provides simultaneous 2-band diffraction-limited high-resolution optical imaging (FWHM~0.05" at 650nm) of targets as faint as V~15, over a ~2.8 arcsecond field-of-view. DSSI will be offered once or twice in the semester, depending on demand. The visiting DSSI instrument team will operate a mini-queue program during these runs and will take all observations for successful proposers. The DSSI team will provide their standard pipeline-reduced data products (includes reconstructed image and sensitivity curve) to PIs. There is no requirement to collaborate with the DSSI team for this level of service. Details of the use of DSSI at WIYN are given in Howell et al., 2011, AJ, 142, 19, Horch et al., 2012, AJ, 143, 10, and 2011, AJ, 141, 180. The PI for this program is Steve Howell (NASA Ames Research Center).

Last updated or reviewed September 1, 2015.