Subject: 3.5-m Users Committee minutes 1/14/08

From: Bruce Gillespie

Submitted: Mon, 21 Jan 2008 10:49:14 -0700

Message number: 1083 (previous: 1082, next: 1084 up: Index)

                  APO 3.5-m Users Committee Phonecon, 1/14/08

Attending:  Suzanne Hawley, Bruce Gillespie, Scott Anderson, Remy  
Indebetouw, Al Harper, Jon Holtzman, Jon Fulbright, Mark Klaene,  
Michael Strauss, Bill Ketzeback

Absent: John Bally

Minutes taken by Bruce Gillespie


User feedback, comments from institutional representatives:

Princeton (Strauss) - Michael said that the Princeton users were  
happy.  Michael was also pleased that we were able to rearrange the  
schedule on short notice to accommodate special 3.5-m observations on  
17 January, parallel with Chandra and VLA observing programs (the  
dates for the observations were not known until about a week ago).   
He's heard no feedback from NIC-FPS users regarding latent images from  
bright targets.

UVa (Indebetouw) - Remy said the Virginia users are happy with their  
recent observing runs.

UW (Anderson) - Scott reported that everything is fine.  He's heard no  
feedback from NIC-FPS users regarding latent images from bright targets.

CU (Bally) - No report.

JHU (Fulbright) - Jon had no user feedback to report.

NMSU (Holtzman) - Jon had nothing to report other than the recent  
Observing Specialist training of an NMSU student seems to have gone  
well.  He also had not heard any feedback from users about NIC-FPS  
latent images.

UChicago (Harper) - Al said that he's concerned about the recent  
problems with NIC-FPS, and that his users are waiting for the NIC-FPS  
Fabry-Perot to be available for science.  He also mentioned that the  
UChicago users have seen problems with residual images with NIC-FPS.


Discussion of telescope/instruments report - Klaene:

The report is given below.  Mark highlighted the recent telescope  
azimuth pointing problem, which seems to have been corrected by  
remapping the drive--this is a new problem that will be watched.  The  
NIC-FPS ion pump was replaced.  We lost fiber communications to the  
upper level of the telescope this past weekend; spare fibers were put  
into service, but the fiber communications system to the telescope is  
in need of a wholesale overhaul due to its decrepitude.  We held a CDR  
on moving Agile to a new mirror-cell port, and giving it its own  
rotator.  The move and rotator should be completed in time for use  
sometime during Q2 or Q3.  The Agile focal reducer has been  
reinstalled with new AR coatings, and the new throughput measurements  
have been taken, which seem to indicate an improvement.


3.5-m Telescope, Instruments, and CIF Projects Highlights, 12/06/07  
through 1/08/08

                  Mark Klaene & Bruce Gillespie

0) Overview

Operations continued through the holiday period with minimal  
disruptions to telescope, instrument, and site activities.  Snowfalls  
to date have been light and have not caused any significant loss of  
observing time from buildup on the roof.  Useful data was obtained  
during engineering time that helped correct azimuth pointing errors.

1) Telescope

The azimuth pointing errors we had recently been seeing appear to have  
been caused by a poor fiducial map.  Once the azimuth axis was  
remapped and a new pointing model obtained, pointing was improved.   
There were no other issues with the telescope this period.

2) Instruments

DIS, SPIcam, and the Echelle have all operated smoothly throughout the  
period, with no reported problems except one brief ion pump current  
excursion on the DIS blue side.  The performance of the NIC-FPS ion  
pump got increasingly worse, which caused us to shut down the  
instrument for approximately 6 days/nights.  A new ion pump was  
installed and the instrument was returned to service.  The NIC-FPS  
etalon and detector noise testing at the site was completed--it  
appears the etalon needs to be removed for further testing, and a new  
fan-out board will be manufactured to hopefully address the detector  
noise issue.  The newly coated focal reducer for Agile is being tested  
for throughput; preliminary data reduction and analysis are underway.   
The visiting instruments (CorMASS, GFP, and APOLLO) were all  

3) CIF projects

A CDR was held for the implementation of Agile field rotation and its  
migration to the TR2 port.  Testing of the new axis controllers  


NIC-FPS status - Hawley:

Suzanne said she had recently talked with John Bally at the AAS  
meeting, who told her that the etalon is not workable at present  
because it cannot achieve parallelism of the plates.  The plan is to  
remove the etalon and return it to Boulder for further testing,  
possibly next month.  The new fan-out board for the detector (to  
hopefully reduce detector noise) will be installed at the same time.   
Al Harper thought that the problem with the present fan-out board is  
that it may need more ground-plane shielding.  Suzanne asked about  
user feedback on residual images from bright targets.  We want to make  
sure that the NIC-FPS users are individually polled to see if they are  
having problems with the residual images, in order to understand the  
scheduling implications.  The action item from last meeting will stay  
open until our next meeting.


TripleSpec and CorMASS status, plans - Indebetouw:

Remy said that TripleSpec was about to undergo its first end-to-end  
test.  A March delivery to APO is anticipated, and UVa would be  
willing to try to support science observations on a shared-risk basis  
with ARC users, assuming that the instrument is in a state to attempt  
them.  Suzanne suggested that we should try to collect science test  
targets from the ARC users during Q2.  Remy said this should be  
workable, perhaps later in Q2.  Suzanne noted that the Q3 proposals  
need to be submitted in May, the middle of Q2, so we'll need to keep  
the user community posted on the TripleSpec status as it is  
commissioned.  Bruce said that people who want to try shared-risk  
science observing in Q2 should send their target lists to John Wilson  
at UVa in the March/April timeframe.  Suzanne said that she  
anticipates sending an opportunity call for science targets for  
TripleSpec commissioning once the instrument is delivered and we see  
how it is working.  UVa is also providing a data-reduction s/w package  
for TripleSpec, which will also need to be exercised early.  CorMASS  
(which is not being used much, if at all) will stay at the site at  
least through Q2 (and perhaps longer) but CorMASS will have to be  
moved off the observing level when TripleSpec arrives to minimize  
traffic congestion.  TripleSpec will effectively replace CorMASS when  
it becomes operational.


ReSTAR report - Hawley:

Suzanne has been on the Renewing Small Telescopes for Astronomical  
Research committee for the past year as an ACCORD liaison, and the  
ReSTAR final report has been posted at the NOAO website (see 
.  It outlines a national program combining federal and private  
telescopes in the 2- to 4-m aperture range.  The goal is to offer  
approximately 8 such telescopes with oversubscription rates of ~2 or  
less, and equipped with state of the art instruments for high- and low- 
resolution optical spectroscopy, IR spectroscopy, and optical and IR  
imaging (not every capability would be offered on each telescope  
necessarily).  There is an extensive science case provided in the  
document.  Operating these telescopes as part of a "Telescope System"  
would enable NSF support.  With the news that the UK is pulling back  
from Gemini, there will likely be a ReSTAR-like committee formed to  
discuss telescope time needs on large telescopes in the near future,  
which might delay its implementation on the mid-sized telescopes.  But  
there is a chance that ReSTAR could be in place for the mid-sized  
telescopes fairly soon.  Suzanne recommended that we wait for a few  
months to see what the NSF has to say about the report, and in the  
meantime it would be useful for the Users Committee and interested  
users to read the report.


Mythbusters at APO [added in proof] - Hawley:

Suzanne thought it would be worthwhile to mention in the minutes that  
filming for the Discovery Channel show "Mythbusters" occurred this  
week at APO.  TV crews shot on-site footage of APOLLO lunar ranging  
while actual lasing was taking place; the show intends to discredit  
the "myth" that astronauts never landed on the moon.  The final  
production will be aired at some future date.



[open from previous months]:

ACTION:  Committee members to look at the new user webpages, and  
report back to Jon Holtzman and Gabrelle Saurage suggestions for  
content and organization.

STATUS:  Closed.  Little additional feedback.  New webpages have now  
become the default, with links and archive access provided to old pages.

ACTION:  John Bally will write a section with figures on Fowler  
sampling for inclusion in the NIC-FPS user documentation.

STATUS:  Open.

ACTION:  User Committee members should find out if their NIC-FPS users  
are having problems with residual images caused by bright targets.

STATUS:  To remain open until 2/25 meeting.

[new actions from this month]:



Next meeting:

The next Users Committee phonecon will be on Monday, 25 February, at  
8:30 AM Pacific Time.  The agenda and other materials will be sent to  
the committee members during the preceding week.

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