Subject: APO 3.5m users committee minutes, 3/4/13 meeting

From: Suzanne Hawley

Submitted: Sun, 10 Mar 2013 23:23:11 -0700 (PDT)

Message number: 1306 (previous: 1305, next: 1307 up: Index)

 		APO 3.5-m Users Committee Phonecon, 3/4/13

Attending:  Mark Klaene, Michael Strauss, John Stocke (for John Bally), 
Jon Holtzman, Mary Beth Kaiser, Bill Ketzeback, Joe Huehnerhoff, and Bruce 

Absent:  Suzanne Hawley, Scott Anderson, Al Harper, Remy Indebetouw


User feedback and comments from institutional representatives:

o Washington (Scott Anderson) - no report.

o Chicago (Al Harper) - no report.

o New Mexico State (Jon Holtzman) - Jon had nothing new to report.

o Princeton (Michael Strauss) - Michael had nothing new to report, other 
than everything is going well and the PU users are contented.

o Colorado (John Stock) - John mentioned that there is field trip of CU 
students planned in April, and gave thanks to the site staff for their 
support in arranging and hosting the visit.

o Virginia (Remy Indebetouw) - no report.

o Johns Hopkins (Mary Beth Kaiser) - Mary Beth said that there is interest 
from the JHU users in the possibility of a new optical imager.


Discussion of telescope/instruments report:

Mark said discussions have resumed with the US Air Force regarding light 
pollution from Holloman AFB, this time initiated by them because of their 
interest in energy conservation.  Mark also highlighted the DIS binning 
issue, where it has been determined that binning odd numbers of pixels in 
both (not just one) directions causes binning to fail -- this is 
considered a relatively minor problem that would be very difficult to fix, 
so we are not planning to work on it any time soon. Work continued on the 
echelle guider camera shutter; it is working now and will be replaced 
soon.  For NIC-FPS, NFS > 8 is still not working and we are no longer 
actively trying to fix it as we have run out of options to try.

Mark Klaene's detailed report for the reporting period follows:


 	      3.5-m Telescope and Instruments Highlights
 	                1/30/13 through 2/27/13

0) Overview

Some weather-associated lost time.  Frequent storm systems, about once a 
week, continue.  Unfortunately, despite the clouds, snowfall accumulation 
continues well below average with each storm only depositing a couple of 
inches.  No clear time was lost due to snow and ice on the roof/lightning 
arrestors.  Discussions have started with a DOD contractor regarding 
reducing light pollution from HAFB.

1) Telescope

The telescope performance has been nominal this period.  No further 
problems with M2 and M3 actuators have surfaced, but they are still being 
monitored closely.

2) Instruments

DIS has been operating nominally.  Both red and blue cameras have been 
functioning normally with good vacuum and temperature.  Further 
characterization of the binning issues revealed that binning fails when 
both x and y directions are odd number of pixels.

Agile had no problems this period.

SPIcam's new ion pump controller (Gamma vacuum) was upgraded to handle 
vacuum spikes better.

TripleSpec operated with no problems.  Users should be aware that the slit 
is still locked in the 1.1" position.

Echelle servicing was completed and it is operating normally.  The problem 
of the ECam images showing streaks was traced to a sticking shutter.  The 
failing shutter was worked on and a new replacement has been ordered.  We 
are also working with Apogee Instruments on installing their new 5-million 
cycle shutter this summer.

NIC-FPS is operating in shared-risk observing mode due to occasional image 
corruption issues.  NFS greater than 8 still fails.  We have exhausted all 
ideas to correct this.  A glow that has been reported has not been 
reproduced, despite numerous attempts on cloudy nights.  Further tests are 


GIFS training:

Mark reported that the GIFS instrument is working, as are the basic 
software actors.  The TUI integration will occur after the summer 
shutdown.  We are canceling the GIFS training session planned for May, and 
will try again in the fall.


Summer shutdown plans:

Bill said that the summer shutdown duration will be about four weeks.  It 
is undecided as of yet whether we will break the shutdown into two blocks, 
or do it all contiguously.  The shutdown work list includes 
realuminization of the secondary and tertiary mirrors, servicing their 
motion actuators, in situ washing of the primary mirror, annual instrument 
servicing (including installation of a new DIS red field lens), inspection 
of the azimuth drive motors, and the migration of the TCC software from 
VMS to Unix.


Instrument documentation:

Jon Holtzman feels that it is important to clean up, update, and generally 
improve our user documentation as we transition to new ARC partners. 
Although our user documentation is better than it used to be, descriptions 
of instrument performance and quirks are not well covered.  John Stocke 
said that we should identify user documentation "point" persons at our 
institutions, and Jon Holtzman agreed that it would be useful if the Users 
Committee members find users at their respective institutions to review 
and critique the telescope and instrument documentation, which led to a 
new action item.

===> ACTION:  Users Committee members to find users at their respective 
institutions to review and critique the telescope and instrument 


DIS slitviewer camera:

Mark asked the committee members if there was any feedback regarding the 
proposal to upgrade the DIS slit viewer, discussed at length at our last 
meeting.  There was none.  Bill said that based on comments he has 
previously received on the proposal, we are tweaking the designs and 
moving toward PDR.  He is looking at the possibility of filters in the 
ssystem.  Mark asked the committee to inform him of any users who might be 
interested in participating in the upcoming review.


New APO imager:

Joe and Bill addressed comments and questions on the white paper that was 
sent the week before the meeting to the users committee members, 
describing requirements and designs for a new optical imaging camera to 
replace SPICam. John Stocke noted that the imaging niche of our telescope 
is narrow-band, medium-field imaging, in his opinion.  The driver to go to 
a larger field in a new imager is not compelling; if we can reuse our 
existing filters with a focal reducer, that would be ideal.  Jon added 
that money is a big factor, and the question boils down to whether we can 
afford a new instrument that simply maintains our existing capabilities, 
albeit with some improvements and maintainability, or do we want to expand 
the instrument capabilities, e.g., a wider field, at the same time.  John 
Stocke repeated that more field of view is not as high a scientific 
priority, nor unique to mid-sized telescope. He advocates simultaneous 
multi-band imaging, and higher image quality, e.g., tip-tilt correction, 
as higher priorities.  Mark said that we are severely cost-constrained on 
where to take this project -- we encourage further discussion and users 
should send us comments or questions.  We should talk more on this next 
month, especially the scientific case for a 12-arcminute vs. 8-arcminute 
field of view for the new imager.  Jon Holtzman added that we also need to 
discuss photometric and baffling requirements, and whether the instrument 
should be mounted at NA2 or on a side port (like Agile).  The users 
committee was encouraged to disseminate the white paper to interested 
users and gather feedback for the next meeting.  This is a new action 



[open from previous meeting]:

===> ACTION:  Send new ARC partner suggestions to Suzanne and Rene.

 	Status:  Open, committee members need to keep sending suggestions. 
We need the names of institutions (of any size) and a named contact.

===> ACTION:  Users committee members should discuss APOGEE fiber feed to 
3.5-m proposal with their users and forward feedback, and ideally name(s) 
of interested users who would be willing to participate in an ATI proposal 
to Suzanne, Mark and Fred Hearty.

 	Status:  Closed for now, reopen after the APOGEE MRI proposal 
request for a 2nd instrument is decided.

===> ACTION:  Committee members to talk with their users re LSST followup 
programs, and discuss at next Users Committee meeting.

 	Status:  Open, not discussed.  We need to talk about this at the 
next meeting to provide feedback for Rene Walterbos, who will attend an 
NOAO meeting on this subject in mid-April.

===> ACTION:  All users should send comments to Suzanne Mark and Bill 
about the DIS slitviewer upgrade.

 	Status:  Open, comments still welcome.

[new from this meeting]:

===> ACTION:  Users Committee members to identify users at their 
respective institutions to review and critique the existing telescope and 
instrument documentation.

===> ACTION: Users Committee members to disseminate new APO imager white 
paper and gather feedback from their users for discussion at next meeting.


Next meeting:  The next Users Committee phonecon will be on Monday 8 April 
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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