Subject: APO 3.5m users committee minutes, 10/11/10 meeting

From: Suzanne Hawley

Submitted: Wed, 13 Oct 2010 14:56:44 -0700 (PDT)

Message number: 1206 (previous: 1205, next: 1207 up: Index)

 	APO 3.5-m Users Committee Phonecon, 10/11/10

****** Please send science highlights to your users committee 
representative, and to Suzanne Hawley and Mark Klaene, by 
Friday October 15 for inclusion in the ARC 3.5m Annual Report
We prefer a powerpoint slide including figure and text, but will
accept a figure (jpeg) and text separately.  **************

Attending:  Suzanne Hawley, Mark Klaene, Michael Strauss, Bill Ketzeback, 
Russet McMillan, Remy Indebetouw, Scott Anderson, John Bally, Al Harper, 
Sean Moran, Bruce Gillespie

Absent:  Jon Holtzman


User feedback, comments from institutional representatives:

 	Chicago (Al Harper) - Al had nothing new to report.

 	New Mexico State (Jon Holtzman) - no report.

 	Washington (Scott Anderson) - Scott mentioned that a UW user 
recently lost some observing time because of an inability to transfer 
observing data.  This took about an hour to fix, and Scott wondered if 
others are experiencing the same issue.  Russet said that there have been 
three recent cases, and that it is a new, evolving problem that the APO IT 
staff are aware of and are looking for a fix or workaround.  Until 
recently, firewalls at user institutions assumed a single IP address for 
TUI and data downloads.  Some firewalls are now expecting multiple IPs for 
an observing session, which seems to be causing the problem.  Until this 
is addressed, users should try to keep taking data if possible during file 
transfer blockages, and/or download their data using FTP or other means. 
If a quick look at the blocked data is needed, the Observing Specialists 
can also help in real time.

 	Colorado (John Bally) - John had nothing new to report.

 	Princeton (Michael Strauss) - Michael had nothing new to report.

 	Johns Hopkins (Sean Moran) - Sean had nothing new to report.

 	Virginia (Remy Indebetouw) - Remy had nothing new to report.


Discussion of telescope/instruments report - Klaene:

Mark highlighted his written report, given below.  It is now seasonably 
dry, and should hopefully stay like this for the next few weeks.  The 
winter forecast is for drier than normal conditions, also.  Coincident 
with tuning the primary mirror position servo, the optical alignment of 
the telescope got out of whack; Russet recollimated the telescope but the 
root cause is unknown at present.  During a recent cloudy night, one of 
the UPS units on the telescope failed, which was fixed the next day with a 
workaround until we can install replacement parts.  The instruments are 
generally in good shape, especially after replacing a failed ion pump 
controller on SPIcam.  Late last week, TUI was upgraded to 1.8.3, which 
solved a compatibility problem with Macs using OS 10.4.  Suzanne said that 
we don't have much of a feeling about how many users are still using this 
older operating system.  Since the new TUI was upgraded to fix issues with 
Agile, users who don't use Agile can still use older versions of TUI.

===> ACTION:  Users Committee members should poll their users to find out 
how many are using TUI with Mac OS 10.4 and report at the next Users 
Committee meeting.

Concerning the engineering plans and CIF projects that are under 
consideration (see below), Mark noted that the realuminization of the 
primary mirror is slated for next July, and will result in a summer 
shutdown that lasts somewhat longer than in the last few years that 
haven't included a primary realuminizing.  We also intend to begin the 
upgrades to the echelle, improve the DIS slit viewer, port the TCC 
software to a modern (i.e., not VMS) computer platform, improve dew point 
monitoring to both enable more observing close to closing conditions while 
avoiding fogging or frosting the optics, reliably enable telescope 
tracking up to 85 degrees altitude, complete the implementation of the 
top-end metrology (accelerometers and strain gauges), and ramp up research 
on telescope enclosure cooling and dome seeing.  Upgrades to the 
calibration lamps are on hold, pending needed advances in lamp technology.


 	3.5-m Telescope, Instruments, and CIF Projects Highlights, 9/6/10 through 10/05/10

0) Overview

A few days of clear and dry weather, but still more rain and clouds. 
Long term forecast is for a winter La Nina so probably a dryer than normal 
winter is coming.

1) Telescope

During some PMSS investigation we discovered the telescope was out of 
collimation.  A significant change to secondary translation corrected the 
collimation but we are still investigating what caused it.  A failure in 
the main UPS unit that powers much of the telescope caused loss of power 
around 4:30 AM (during a cloudy night).  The failure was traced to a 
shorted temperature sensor.  A patch was implemented to get the unit back 
up quickly and new parts are on order.  Minor TUI upgrades were also 
released.  The problem with Mac OS X 10.4 has been fixed in the most 
recent version TUI 1.8.3.

2) Instruments

DIS, TripleSpec, NIC-FPS, the Echelle, and Agile ran with no problems. 
SPIcam ION pump controller failed.  Upon replacement and pump down, 
temperatures are now running normally.

3) Preliminary list of CIF projects for 2011:

       Re-aluminize 3.5m

       Telescope Control Computer (TCC) Replacement

       Echelle Upgrade

       DIS Slitviewer mounting improvement and possible replacement

       Improve accuracy in dew point metrology

       Pointing/Tracking improvements

       Top End Metrology

       Telescope/Enclosure cooling and dome seeing


Science highlights, references for annual report - Hawley:

Suzanne said that she needs science highlights for the ARC 3.5m Annual Report 
(she's received nothing so far).  They are due this Friday, Oct 15 and should 
be sent to the institutional users representative, Suzanne and Mark.

Separately, please send references for publicshed or in press papers, 
theses, etc. to Suzanne, Mark and Rene Walterbos who has volunteered again 
to collate them (thanks Rene!).  Note that we don't include abstracts and 
in-preparation papers in our publications list.  Suzanne mentioned that we 
compare fairly well with similar compilations from other mid-sized 


Echelle upgrade - Hawley:

Suzanne reported that Jon Holtzman is working on the recommendations for a 
new detector, grating, and optical coatings.  A new proposal is to modify 
the instrument's front end to accommodate a fiber feed and multiple slits. 
After some discussion, it appears that recoating the optics may be 
infeasible and not worth the effort, especially since it would involve a 
difficult realignment of the instrument.  The detector upgrade looks most 
promising and is presently being explored.  Jon is writing a proposal for 
presentation at the November ARC Board meeting.


APO futures proposals - Hawley:

Suzanne asked if people were working on pre-proposals, which are due 22 
October.  We need to be proactive now if there are major new initiatives 
to be considered, although most of the proposals received will likely be 
related to the 2.5-meter telescope.  Suzanne discussed some of the ideas 
for the 3.5-meter telescope that she was aware of, and there may come a 
point where we will ask for expressions of interest for proposals for new 
instrumentation, particularly for those coming from non-ARC entities.



[open from previous meeting]:

===> ACTION:  Users Committee members to poll their users to see whether 
the current performance of NIC-FPS is adequate for their science.

 	STATUS:  This action is CLOSED.  JHU users were asked, but there 
was no response; Princeton users are aware of the limitations, and it 
impacts some science programs; because of the NIC-FPS noise limitations, 
some CU users are making use of NEWFIRM, especially for narrow-band 
observations; and nobody seems to be using NIC-FPS at UVa.  Mark said that 
the plan to try to fix the excessive noise problem involves taking the 
instrument to Colorado, likely not until next summer, and to do the tests 
and repairs directly on the science, not the engineering, detector -- so 
there is some risk that is considered small but significant.  With this 
said, it was decided to close the action item.

[new actions from this meeting]:

===> ACTION:  Users Committee members should poll their users to find out 
how many are using TUI with Mac OS 10.4 and report at the next Users 
Committee meeting.


Next meeting:  The next Users Committee phonecon will be on Monday 6 
December (skipping November) at 8:30 AM Pacific Time.  The agenda and 
other materials will be sent to the committee members during the preceding 

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