Subject: APO 3.5m users committee minutes, April 5, 2010 meeting

From: Suzanne Hawley

Submitted: Fri, 9 Apr 2010 17:17:49 -0700 (PDT)

Message number: 1177 (previous: 1176, next: 1178 up: Index)

          APO 3.5-m Users Committee Phonecon, 4/5/10

Attending: Suzanne Hawley, Bill Ketzeback, John Bally
Ed Turner, Jon Holtzman

Absent:  Al Harper, Remy Indebetouw, Jon Fulbright, Scott Anderson,
Mark Klaene


o User feedback, comments from institutional representatives:

New Mexico State (Jon Holtzman) - nothing to report

Colorado (John Bally) - nothing to report

Princeton (Ed Turner) - subscription rates are increasing at
Princeton, largely due to popularity of Triplespec

Washington (Suzanne Hawley) - users are happy that Agile on chip 
guiding is now in commisioning.  Also some DIS linearity testing 
and NICFPS bright object observations are under discussion with
APO staff.  Users appreciate the help and feedback with these

o Discussion of telescope/instruments report - Klaene/Ketzeback

Bill Ketzeback presented the report in Mark Klaene's absence.
With regard to the CIF project to obtain new calibration lamps
that give better response in the blue, Bill said that the possible
lamps being considered take a long time to warm up and may not
be suitable for normal nightly calibrations. Jon Holtzman suggested that 
if the instruments are stable, a set of cal lamps could be taken once
a week during cloudy weather or during the day (e.g. for DIS blue) and 
made available to users.


3.5-m Telescope, Instruments, and CIF Projects Highlights, 3/4/10 through 4/1/10

0) Overview

Spring is at the door step. We are seeing warming temperatures, elevated 
dust levels, and high winds frequently. Significant snow melt has 
occurred.   We have implemented our spring time dust level policy that 
we started 2 years ago which gives the obs specs more flexibility in 
determining when to open or stay open when the background levels are 
high. This allows us to stay open while still protecting against 
significant dust events.

The CU class trip was quite successful.  Thanks to Erica Ellingson for 
such an orderly and well managed group.

1) Telescope

Behavior is still quite good with only rare minor issues with pointing 
and tracking.

2) Instruments

DIS, TSpec, NICFPS, Echelle and Agile ran with no problems.

SPICam is down due to a failed cryotiger compressor. The spare 
compressor from SDSS also failed.  A new compressor has been ordered 
and the lines are being flushed and purged while waiting for the 
replacement compressor. We hope to have the instrument back up before

The new NICFPS fanout board testing is progressing at CU however cable 
noise and problems with the spare Leach controller have seriously slowed 
progress.   There was still no progress reported on the NICFPS etalon at 

3) CIF projects

Agile on-chip guiding was implemented and appears to be quite successful 
based on preliminary results.

The spare drive box machining and fabrication continues with some parts 

Obtaining new cal lamps (to obtain increased flux in the blue) 
is proving to be troublesome. The lamps we would like to use take 
too long to warm up and stabilize and some of the other commercial 
projector lamps have poor wavelength throughput.


o RITMOS feedback - Hawley
   NMSU - One user had some interest but science would be challenging
    at best with this instrument

   CU - Lukewarm response from Colorado users

   UW - Not much interest in RITMOS in its current configuration
    (blue wavelength region, low resolution, and small FOV)

   APO - Concerned about supporting another GFP/Cormass type visiting
    instrument.  Would this lead to development in a multiobject spectrograph
    better matched to the 3.5m? Ketzeback will try to followup with Instrument
    team and send them more info they are requesting.

o Imaging camera discussion - Hawley
   The recent failure of SPIcam's cryotiger has again raised the question
   of the need for a SPIcam replacement. The camera
   was originally a prototype that was not well matched to our telescope and
   is aging. Last year's study effort resulted in the realization that we
   will not have a large FOV capability (no more than 6 or 7 arcmin) so
   perhaps we should reinvestigate the idea of a simultaneous multicolor
   imager. Could consider another imaging camera study to explore this
   option in more detail.  Jon Holtzman raised the issue that this may
   be an expensive project (> $0.5 million) so we need strong science
   driver(s) in order to pursue external funding.  If we can't identify
   those then another technical study may not be worthwhile.


Users committee members should ask their users if RITMOS is of interest
to them (please share SPIE paper).  [Closed]

o No new action items from this meeting.


Next meeting: The next Users Committee phonecon will be on Monday, 3 May, 
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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