Subject: Minutes of User's Committee meeting, May 13

From: strauss@astro.Princeton.EDU

Submitted: Sat, 18 May 1996 16:53:57 -0400 (EDT)

Message number: 64 (previous: 63, next: 65 up: Index)

 Minutes of APO 3.5m User's Committee Phone Conference
			May 13, 1996

  Attending: Alan Uomoto, Bruce Gillespie, Ed Turner (Chair), Lew
Hobbs, Julie Lutz, Michael Strauss (taking minutes), Rene Walterbos,
Chris Stubbs

Last month's minutes are approved. 

   Forest Fire Dangers
   How to properly account the scientific productivity of the telescope
   Making the DSC a facility instrument
   Policy on visitor instruments
   Instrument performance

  Forest Fires

There are serious forest fires in New Mexico and Arizona. It is very
seriously dry there; there has been a several year drought.  The Fire
danger is said to be explosive. The forest service are talking about
closing the forest (we would still be able to use the Observatory, but
tourists would be excluded. People observing on site would need
special passes. Because of this hassle, and the need for evacuations
if fire did endanger the observatory, we will want to minimize the
number of people observing on site until the fire season is over.
User's committee members will let people know if this problem at their
home institution).  An evacuation plan for the
observatory does exist. Conditions will be bad until the beginning of
July, when monsoon season starts. Biggest danger is from dry

  The Sunspot fire department is volunteer; Klaene and Fowler of APO
are both on it.  APO has 20,000 gallon reservoir, foam system.
National Forest service will put saving observatory at high
priority. We have fire insurance.  Gillespie has authority to evacuate
the site.

		Quantifying Scientific Productivity
o User Feedback--specifically, how does the usefullness of observing
time get accounted?.  Presently, the log shows when the telescope
shutters are open or closed, and there is no measure of the
usefullness of the "shutter-open" time.  
  Szkody has started to think about this. Two approaches:
    1. Ask observer to give numbers at the end of a run: fraction of
time spent doing useful science.
    2. Qualitative questions: was the run successful? What went wrong? 

Stubbs: People are frustrated that there is little up-to-date
information on the status of the telescope an instrument; one would
like to know what's been happening over the last 5 nights.  There is a
Chicago volunteer to try to set something up via the Web.

Turner: This will also let us know if there are particular aspects of
the observatory that need attention.

  This will be immediate impressions at the end of a run: the user's
committee's job is to get feedback from their community on a longer

  Perhaps we should have a questionaire on the Web, or a little ascii
template to be filled out.

  Turner and Gillespie will put a suggested list of what will be asked
for, and circulate it for comments.

			DSC as Facility Instrument
o DSC Handoff--given that HRI is not expected to be delivered, do we want
to have the DSC commissioned as the observatory's "facility-class" imager?  If
so, there is a long list of improvements and fixes that need to be

Stubbs is building a prototype imaging camera, which may be ready by
July. Will contain 1 thinned 2K chip.  No filter wheel yet.  He is
building it to be able to do science and to circumvent the
problems of the DSC stability, readout electronics, and AR coating. 

  DSC filter wheel parts do now exist on mountain. Should be put
together in between 4 and 10 weeks. It will take 5 3x3 filters in each
of two wheels. Can take quite thick filters. Bruce will post the
details of its characteristics soon. 

McKay, Gillespie have made a list of ~20 items needed to improve the
DSC (they will post it soon to apo35-dsc); McKay is happy to give it
wholly over to APO.

  Will Stubbs' instrument be a facilities instrument? Well yes,
perhaps, but are willing to help anyone who wants to use it in the

  In the meantime, we will continue work on improving DSC. 

		Policy on Visitor Instruments

The small amount of time scheduled for visitor instruments end up
taking a very large fraction (20%) of on-site engineering time. New
instruments are essential to maintain vitality of observatory.  But
what if some institution's required engineering support is *much*
greater than the fraction of time allocated it? What should our
policies be?

  Gillespie: APO will meet new instruments half-way. However, we need
lots of early warning. People need to come prepared!

  The TAC at each institution, in consultation w/ Gillespie et al,
would judge what is required to install each instrument. People should
first consult w/ Gillespie, make a plan for installation, and *then*
go to the TAC. The way it has been working thus far is that the
mountain crew learns about visitor instruments only when the schedule
for each quarter comes out, and still at that point does not
necessarily know what sort of support the observers need. 

  Questions Do we want to continue supporting visitor's instruments
at the 20% level? People say yes. 

PI's need guidelines (e.g., a form) as to what information they need
to supply to APO. 

     Instrument Performance

  NMSU  has worked hard on characterizing throughput of DIS; read
their report at:

The next meeting will be Monday, June 3. 
Among the agenda items for that meeting:
  A continuation of the discussion of instrument throughputs. 

Two items from last month:
    o data archiving at APO--is a minimal semi-automated archive of image
      data at the site worth the cost and added work?  Something on the
      scale of the "Save the Bits" program at KPNO.

    o Network and remote interface problems and enhancement plans.

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