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Searching and the Helpdesk

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Lost in the maze of information? There are two routes to finding help:


#1 sign Use the search engine at the top of a page or on our homepage to search the Gemini web pages. If you are having problems specifically with the Gemini data reduction software, please look at the Data Reduction Support page. You may also want to look at the user supported Gemini Data Reduction User Forum.

#2 sign Contact Gemini Observatory and National Gemini Office support staff (see below) by submitting your request for information to the HelpDesk (opened in a new browser window). For more information on what happens next (the workflow), how to update request details and how to re-open a 'resolved' request, please see HelpDesk follow-up. Note there is no longer a Helpdesk interface categorized by Program ID.

The Gemini HelpDesk is the primary means by which individuals can make requests for information to the support staff. The support staff are distributed throughout the Gemini partnership: at the Gemini Observatory, within National Gemini Offices and elsewhere. The HelpDesk system takes care of routing, tracking, escalation and aids in the resolution of requests. You can track the status of your query via the HelpDesk and will be e-mailed when work is done on your request.

In broad terms, the division of responsibilities between Gemini staff and the National Offices is:

  • National Offices
    • Pre-observation (Phase I proposal and Phase II observation definition) and post-observation (data processing) off-site support.
    • First point of contact for user requests, which can be distributed to a wider support network and/or escalated to other National Offices or Gemini staff if necessary (see HelpDesk structure for more details).

  • Gemini
    • Observation execution and on-site support (e.g. via Contact Scientists).
    • Expert support for user requests.

Note that topics such as observing techniques and strategy are best sent direct to your NGO, and not submitted via the Helpdesk.

You should normally receive acknowledgment of your request within three working days. This will normally come from your NGO; if they are unable to resolve the issue it will be escalated, depending upon the type of issue, either to an instrument specialist in another NGO or to staff at the Observatory.

The handover of responsibility, from the National Offices to Gemini, for direct communication with queue and classical applicants occurs upon acceptance of their detailed Phase II programme into the Active Observing Database (see a description of the Phase II process for more details).

See the contents list for further information about how the HelpDesk is structured, who is responsible for responding to your request and to learn more about the HelpDesk system itself.

There is also a copy of the paper (240kB; Gemini preprint #56; Chan & Puxley 2000, SPIE, 4010, 72) and powerpoint presentation (360kB) from SPIE ( Munich 2000) describing the HelpDesk.


Helpdesk Structure and Responsibilities

The Gemini HelpDesk is organised into three levels or tiers.

Tier 1

The first points of contact for queries from the community are the National Gemini Offices (NGOs). Requests submitted via the HelpDesk are routed to the appropriate NGO, using the country selected by the user, and to an individual or group within the NGO according to the subject.

Few, if any, of the NGOs will have the resources or expertise to respond to queries in all areas in depth. In such cases the query is escalated by the NGO support staff up to the second tier.

Tier 2

The second tier is organised purely by category and sub-category. The full list of categories indicates the assignment, either to an NGO or Gemini. 

Brazilian responsibilities

US responsibilities

GRACES (Gemini-N optical Hi-Res spectrograph)

NIRI (near-IR imager)

GNIRS (near-IR spectrograph)

GPI (AO polarimeter/integral-field spectrometer)

Phoenix (high res. IR spectrograph)

IRAF (general)

NICI (near-IR coronagraph)

FLAMINGOS-2 (near-IR imager/spectrometer)
GMOS (optical MOS)

GMOS Cookbook

The Gemini Observatory is responsible for tier-2 support in all other categories. As an example, the responsibility for responding to tier-2 queries from the entire Gemini community regarding GMOS rests with Canada.

If the tier-2 support shown in the table above is unable to answer the query then it is escalated to the third tier.

Tier 3

The responsibility for tier-3 support in all categories lies with the Gemini Observatory.


Helpdesk Follow-up

Q - How Does My Request Flow Through the System and How Do I Get Notified of Results?

A - Once your request has been successfully submitted into the system, it is automatically assigned to a HelpDesk support staff member. Initially, this will be someone from the National Office of your partner country. If they are unable to resolve it, it will be escalated to Gemini staff. You should receive a response acknowledging your request or escalation at each tier within three working days.

In the case of data reduction requests, the NGO staff member will, if the source of the problem is not easily ascertained from the information you provided, attempt to reproduce the problem with the same data set and current DR package release. If this does not produce a solution, the NGO will then refer the request to Gemini staff.

Q - How Do I Update a HelpDesk Request?

A - If you wish to add more information to a request that you have submitted, then please follow the link given in the last email you have received from the Helpdesk. This will take you to the "Update page" for your request; the address is of the form http://helpdesk.gemini.edu/cgi-bin/helpdesk/arshelpupdate.cgi?id=NNNNNNNNN where NNNNNNNNN is the ID number of your helpdesk request.

If you wish to comment on or modify the request, then please enter your comments in the text box in this page labelled "Work Done". You can now append more information to the Details section of the request and then click on the "Update" button at the bottom of the page. The staff member assigned to your case will automatically be notified that you have updated your request.

Q - How Do I Re-open a Resolved Request?

A - After responding to your request, the assigned staff member will normally set its status to resolved. However, in some cases it may be that they have failed to answer your question. You have the opportunity to re-open the request and ask the HelpDesk support staff to provide more information. Resolved requests automatically close after 14 days.

To re-open a resolved request please follow the link in the last email you have received from the Helpdesk. This will take you to the "Update page" for your request; the address is of the form http://helpdesk.gemini.edu/cgi-bin/helpdesk/arshelpupdate.cgi?id=NNNNNNNNN where NNNNNNNNN is the ID number of your helpdesk request.

You can enter your comments in the text box in this page labelled "Work Done" and then click on the "Update" button at the bottom of the page. The system will then automatically re-open the request, you will receive e-mail confirmation and the support staff will be notified.


Helpdesk Categories

The categories and sub-categories in the Gemini HelpDesk, together with the broad tier-2 assignments, are as follows:

Category (ordered as in the helpdesk selection menu) Tier 2 support Explanation
Sub-category
Instruments For queries from proposals through data reduction
QUIRC/Hokupa’a * Gemini
NIRI US
CIRPASS * Gemini
OSCIR * Gemini
GMOS US
Michelle * Gemini
Phoenix US
T-ReCS * US
ALTAIR Gemini
bHROS * Gemini
GeMS Gemini
GNIRS US
GPI US
GSAOI Gemini
NIRSPEC * Gemini
Flamigos-1 * Gemini
Flamigos-2 US
NIFS Gemini
NICI US
GRACES Brazil
Visiting Instruments Gemini
Telescope For queries regarding telescope (non-instrument related) capabilities
WFS/guide stars Gemini
Acquisition Gemini
Calibration Gemini
Polarimetry US
Adaptive Optics Gemini
Other capabilities Gemini
Observing For queries related to everything else not related directly to instruments or telescope
Fast Turnaround Gemini
PIT or Phase I Gemini
Observing Tool/Phase II Gemini
Observing modes Gemini
Astrometry Gemini
Gemini IRAF Gemini For queries regarding the use of the Gemini IRAF package
General IRAF US For queries regarding the general use of IRAF
GMMPS Gemini
GMOS Cookbook Gemini For queries regarding US created and supported GMOS Cookbook
Gemini Publications Database Gemini For queries regarding the use of the Gemini User Publication Database
Gemini Observatory Archive Gemini
HelpDesk Gemini For queries regarding the use of this system
Web sites Gemini
Gemini North visitors Gemini
Gemini South visitors Gemini
Gemini committees Gemini
Partner Country Support Gemini
Computers Gemini
PR/outreach Gemini
Other Gemini


* Retired Instruments


NGO and Gemini Support

Phase II Gemini Contact Scientists and National Office Support Staff

The Gemini Observatory Contact Scientists and National Gemini Office support staff assigned to pre-observation Phase II, observation execution and post-observing support of queue and classical programs for the current semester, are listed in the tables linked below. These individuals are also the contacts assigned in the HelpDesk (NGO staff at tier-1, Gemini staff at tier-1 and/or tier-2).  

Please use the Gemini HelpDesk to ensure efficient distribution of your query to the person most appropriate to help you.

Gemini Contact Scientists

Argentina National Office Support Staff

Brazil National Office Support Staff

Canada National Office Support Staff

Chile National Office Support Staff

Korean National Office Support Staff

US National Office Support Staff

University of Hawaii National Office Support Staff