September 2023:

NEWFIRM was listed in the 2024A semester Call for Proposals.  NEWFIRM will be available for general science observations.  NEWFIRM will be operated in Science Verification mode for the 2023B semester.  Contact the instrument scientist for details.

July 2023:

The third commissioning run occurred 04-06 July.  We completed the integration  of the guider.  During the one photometric night we continued with the characterization of the  broadband J, H, and Ks filters.  Details can be found at this link.

April 2023:

The second commissioning run occurred 03-05 April. Integration of the NEWFIRM guider was the main focus of this run.  Further tests were made to characterize the on-sky performance in the broadband J, H, and Ks filters in addition to the narrowband filters 1644 [Fe II], 2124 H2, and 2168 Br-γ

January 2023:

NEWFIRM was mounted in the Blanco Cassegrain cage for the first recommissioning run 12-15 Jan.  Tests and observations were performed to determine standard detector characteristics in the J, H, and Ks and assess the delivered image quality.  The new observing GUI was tested.


NEWFIRM arrived at Cerro Tololo on October 25, 2021. During November and December the shipping crates were unpacked and major assemblies were mounted on their laboratory carts. Initial tests showed an intact rough vacuum on the dewar, and internal mechanisms were successfully tested with no apparent issues. Also in this period good progress was made with the rewrite of the instrument software and testing of the new detector controller to computer interface card took place.

Near-term activities include more warm mechanism testing, detailed design of the guider upgrade (detectors, software), completion of testing and repair of facility helium lines, continued writing of the instrument software, and preparation for the first off-telescope cool down, scheduled for April 2022. Only then will we be able to test the detectors and the full data system.

Upon the successful completion of cooling NEWFIRM and lab verification, we plan on performing the first NEWFIRM recommissioning run and checkout in August 2022 at the start of the 2022B semester. After the recommissioning schedule is finalized, we will solicit Science Verification (SV) proposals from our user community and select a few to be executed during October-December 2022. Clearly, these dates depend on the performance of the instrument and could easily slip if problems need to be fixed. Updates on the NEWFIRM commissioning schedule can be found on this webpage or by contacting Sean Points.


Updated on September 5, 2023, 2:42 pm