Subject: APO 3.5m users committee minutes, June 2014

From: Suzanne Hawley

Submitted: Fri, 11 Jul 2014 23:13:06 -0700 (PDT)

Message number: 1337 (previous: 1336, next: 1338 up: Index)

 		APO 3.5-m Users Committee Phonecon, 6/23/14

Attending:  Suzanne Hawley, Mark Klaene, John Wilson, Remy Indebetouw, Joe 
Huehnerhoff, Scott Anderson, Rachel Kuzio de Naray, Bill Ketzeback, John 
Bally, Jon Holtzman, Michael Strauss, Joanne Hughes Clark, and Bruce 

Note on participants - Suzanne announced that she has invited John Wilson 
(UVa) to attend the Users Committee meetings as he is now the Instrument 
Scientist for the 3.5-m telescope.


User feedback and comments from institutional representatives:

o Oklahoma - No report.

o Colorado - John Bally had nothing new to report.

o Georgia State - Rachel Kuzio de Naray had nothing new to report.

o Princeton - Michael Strauss said everything has been fine.  He will be 
soon sending Suzanne some internal Princeton time trades for the quarter.

o Seattle Univ. - Joanne Hughes Clark reported that after climbing the 
learning curve with ARCSAT, everything has been fine.

o NMSU - Jon Holtzman had nothing new to report.

o Washington - Scott Anderson had nothing new to report.


Discussion of telescope/instruments report:

Mark highlighted the recent utility power problems at the site.  During a 
power outage, when commercial power was restored it was not "clean" and 
damaged a transfer switch at the site that is involved in the automated 
system to use the backup generator.  This is a major system component that 
will be replaced soon, possibly during the 3.5m shutdown.  In the 
meantime, we will need to switch from commercial to generator power 
manually if the need arises, with some attendant risks.  The rest of his 
comments were largely from statements contained in the written report, 
which follows:


 	      3.5-m Telescope and Instruments Highlights
 	                05/16/14 through 06/17/14

0) Overview

Generally another productive period with variable cloudiness, little 
precipitation and with typical spring wind and dust events in late May. 
Current forest fire danger is still "Very High". Three major site 
infrastructure problems arose this period; the new computer room HVAC unit 
failed and took out 3 components, an underground water leak was 
discovered, and a surge on the incoming utility power took out the 
automatic transfer switch.  All but the automatic transfer switch have 
been repaired.  The part is on order and expected in the upcoming weeks. 
We are currently vulnerable to a site power outage if utility power drops 
for more than 15 minutes with no one on site.  Once the part comes in 
power will be out on site for about a day and may cause disruption to part 
of the night schedule.

A number of training sessions were held this period.  Indiana, Washington, 
Middlebury and JHU all sent people to the site for general 3.5m 
certification and a GIFS training session was also held on site by the 
GSFC folks.

1) Telescope

Telescope has been working well except for occasional az oscillations 
during or at the end of slews.  The area seems to be in 1 part of the sky 
and we are trying to find the compromise between these slew issues and 
tracking performance.  We are also looking at mechanical issues as well as 
issues that differ between the old and new amplifiers.  The new TCC 
development is also progressing nicely with continued testing on the 
telescope.  Numerous pre-shutdown summer maintenance items have been 

2) Instruments

DIS has been operating normally.

Agile is operational with no significant problems.

TripleSpec had no operational problems this period.

SPICam variable dark current has not re-appeared after ion pump work last 

Echelle has been operational.

NIC-FPS continues to operate in shared-risk observing mode due to 
occasional image corruption issue.  NFS less than 9 is operational.

GIFS is operational.  The small LN2 hold time designed in by GFSC 
continues to be a problem.  The training session was attended by several 
staff and observers and was successful with only a couple documentation 
and software issues.


The instrument development is proceeding on schedule.  Once the final 
report is published and reviewed a go-ahead is expected on the final 
optics design which has received tentative approval.

4) Summer shutdown

There are 2 shutdowns scheduled this summer.  The first is from July 
7th to July 24th for M2 and M3 mirror re-coating, mechanical maintenance, 
electronic system upgrades and the majority of instrument servicing.  A 
second shutdown will be from August 8th to August 17th for the new TCC 
upgrade.  We expect the telescope to be operational for much of the time 
during the second shutdown as this is necessary to test the new TCC.

5) Guider matching scripts have been rewritten due to time reporting
    change in headers, and are now available on newton


GIFS training and future use - Ketzeback:

Bill reported that some users came to APO for GIFS training along with APO 
staff.  The training was led by Carol Grady from GSFC.  It generally went 
well and encompassed almost all aspects of GIFS operations.  John Bally 
noted that the instrument has good capabilities, although the FOV is 
small.  For future usage of GIFS, Suzanne noted that at present only a 
couple of institutions have users that want to schedule GIFS on the 
telescope.  Since the instrument has a relatively short LN2 hold time, we 
plan to keep the instrument warm until its next scheduled run in 
September.  If anyone needs it sooner, we need to be given adequate 
notice.  Suzanne added that the plan will likely be to block-schedule GIFS 
in future quarters unless the demand for it increases.


ARCSAT observing and feedback - Ketzeback:

Bill said that we are about 6 weeks into the shared-risk observing period 
with ARCSAT.  Operations are generally going well, although there is a 
substantial learning curve for the not-like-TUI user interface.  Joanne 
said that she used ARCSAT for about a week with her students, and the only 
issue was getting the survey camera to cool to operational temperatures 
quickly.  Bill added that he is hoping that as users from our partner 
institutions become proficient with ARCSAT usage, they can serve as the 
local gurus to help train other users.  Suzanne mentioned that she has 
clarified a policy:  PhD graduate students can propose to use ARCSAT on 
their own, but all other students (undergrads, masters, etc.) must be 
accompanied by a PhD astronomer for (remote) training.  The shared-risk 
observing with ARCSAT is scheduled through September.  There will be a 
call for proposals in August for observing programs in quarter 4.

   On technical topics, there is now a way to bypass the 3.5-m interlock so 
that users can run ARCSAT when the 3.5-m is closed (this is a 
weather-safety interlock). Suzanne mentioned that we ordered the 
Johnson-Cousins filter set, and we found the Stromgren set.  We also have 
several H-alpha filters.  Users should contact Bill Ketzeback if they need 
special filters for an ARCSAT run.  Jon asked if we have u ser wiki page 
for ARCSAT.  Mark said that we need to start one, and Jon offered to put 
the information on his APO wiki page.  In addition, users should get on 
the ARCSAT mailers, which consist of 05m-obs (where the night logs go) and 
05m-gen (the general mailer for ARCSAT).  You can sign up for these 
mailers by going to the main APO web page and look for the link to the 
ARCSAT pages.  Lastly, Suzanne gave congratulations to Bill and Joe for 
all the effort they have put into making ARCSAT a user-friendly and 
capable telescope.


June 16 Board meeting recap - Hawley:

Suzanne and Rene held a telephone meeting with the ARC Board of Governors 
to discuss the options for future leases of telescope time.  The situation 
has developed that we are anticipating being oversubscribed between the 
leasing requests and ARC partner allocations.  The proposal is to ask ARC 
partner institutions to forgo taking the full measure of their telescope 
time in the near term, thus allowing leasing partners to help continue to 
build up our financial contingency.  The Board agreed with this approach, 
and we will therefore be signing some new leases this summer.  The Board 
also decided to raise the leasing cost, as a response to the strong demand 
for 3.5m telescope time.


Preliminary ideas about a new spectrograph - Hawley

Suzanne is soliciting ideas for a new optical spectrograph for the 3.5-m, 
to replace DIS in the next few years. The first step is to decide what 
features we would want with a new instrument (e.g., IFU, time-resolved, 
DIS-like attributes, etc.).  John Wilson said that he would help organize 
the push for the definition of a new optical spectrograph.  There was also 
some discussion on rekindling the project to get a fiber run from the 
3.5-m to the APOGEE H-band spectrograph.


Miscellaneous - Hawley

The apo35-general mailing list is going to be migrated from its Princeton 
server, where it has been managed by Michael Strauss for nearly 20 years, 
to an APO-hosted mailing list.  Stay tuned over the summer for more 


[open from previous meeting]:


[new from this meeting]:



Next meeting:  The next Users Committee phonecon will be on Monday 25 
August (**not** 18 August as announced last month) at 8:30 AM Pacific 
Time.  We will skip July due to the 3.5m shutdown.  The agenda and other 
materials will be sent to the committee members during the preceding week.

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