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The Gemini 8-Meter Telescopes Project is an international partnership to build and operate two 8-meter telescopes, one on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and one on Cerro Pachon, Chile. The telescopes will be international facilities, open to the scientific communities of the six member countries, the United States (50\%), the United Kingdom (25\%), Canada (15\%), Chile (5\%), Argentina (2.5\%), and Brazil (2.5\%). The telescopes are designed to exploit the best atmospheric conditions at these excellent sites. Near diffraction limited performance will be delivered at 2.2 microns and longward, with minimal degradation of the best seeing conditions at shorter wavelengths. The telescopes and facilities are designed to achieve emissivity $<$4\% (requirement) or $<$2\% (goal) if silver coatings are used. The instrument complement is diverse, including near- and mid-IR imagers, and near-IR and optical spectrographs. Both telescopes are equipped with f/16 articulated secondaries, and a future upgrade path to a wide-field f/6 configuration is provided. The northern telescope also includes a natural-guide-star adaptive optics system. Up to five instruments can be mounted simultaneously on the Cassegrain instrument interface. Approximately 50\% of the telescope time will be flexibly scheduled, allowing most efficient utilization of the times of best conditions and facilitating programs which are difficult to schedule, such as synoptic and target-of-opportunity. First light for the Mauna Kea telescope is expected in late 1998, and for the Cerro Pachon telescope in mid-2000. This talk will report on construction progress, the instrumental capabilities, and operations strategies being considered.
The Gemini 8-meter Telescopes Project is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation which serves as executive agency for the Gemini partner countries. U.S. participation in the project is through the U.S. Gemini Program, a division of the National Optical Astronomy Observatories. NOAO is operated by AURA, Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
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