Proposals Invited for WIYN in 2017B

Proposals Invited for WIYN in 2017B

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 2017B 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.

In 2017B, exoplanet researchers are invited to propose to use existing instrumentation (described below) for observing at WIYN. Please be aware that proposals requiring specific dates or times may not be schedulable.

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. Funding support will be restricted to observers from US institutions.

For the 2017B 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 2017B as well. These will be reviewed by the regular TAC, and approved proposals will be eligible for scheduling only 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.

Instruments offered at WIYN in 2017B (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, recently upgraded to a 40 x 48 arcmin field of view. The current full field of view filter set includes SDSS u', g', r', i', z', and a narrow-band filter NB695. The upgraded ODI remains 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.
  • The Differential Speckle Survey Camera (DSSI), built in 2008, has been replaced with the NASA Exoplanet Star (and) Speckle Imager, or NESSI. As with DSSI, NESSI utilizes two electron-multiplying CCD cameras to capture speckle images in two colors simultaneously. The images obtained reach the diffraction limit of the telescope and enable searches for and differential astrometry on binaries with delta magnitudes of up to 5 and separations up to 1.3 arcsec. Unlike DSSI, NESSI has remote controlled filter wheels in each beam, split by the dichroic at 685 nm. The EMCCDs can operate with high sensitivity and low noise even at very fast readout rates (up to 30 MHz), providing high time resolution. NESSI also introduces a new "wide-field" mode that enables the collection of images with fields of > 50 arcseconds. Each 6-slot filter wheel includes two "narrow-band" speckle filters, two standard SDSS filters, and two empty slots. An updated, far more automated, user-friendly software interface is included as well. Final reduced reconstructed images will be provided to the PI after the run for exoplanet speckle projects. See Howell et al., 2011, AJ, 142, 19H, Scott et al., SPIE presentation June 2016

GO 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 2017. Proposals for 2017B are due by 11:59pm MST on March 31, 2017.

Please include this acknowledgment for publications resulting from NN-EXPLORE telescope time: "Data presented herein were obtained at the WIYN Observatory from telescope time allocated to NN-EXPLORE through the scientific partnership of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory."

Last updated or reviewed March 16, 2017.