Subject: APO 3.5m user's committee meeting minutes, 6/16/03


Submitted: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 12:32:36 -0400 (EDT)

Message number: 679 (previous: 678, next: 680 up: Index)

		APO 3.5m User's Committee Phone Conference
		    June 16, 2003

Attending: Ed Turner, Alan Uomoto, Bruce Balick, Bruce Gillespie, Rene
Walterbos, Mike Shull, Al Harper, Michael Strauss, Russet McMillan

Absent: Chris Stubbs, Jon Morse, Jon Holtzman, Don York

  -review/discussion of BoG strategic planning meeting of 6/10
  -Telescope-User Interface implementation plans
  -Observer-Observing specialist interactions
  -Status of NIC-FPS
  -3.5m 10th dedication anniversary

*********The Board of Governor's meeting on June 10: 
  Ed Turner summarized the major points of this meeting: 

  -All institutions expressed some level of satisfaction of 3.5m, and
      that it was meeting their goals, both inresearch and training of students. 
  -JHU was the exception; they felt they have too small a slice of time
      to be maximally scientifically productive. 
  -No institutions indicated a desire to decrease their share of
      telescope time. 
  -Colorado expressed interest in increasing their share.  
  -There was no enthusiasm for bringing in new partners. 
  -Shall we move forward to becoming a specialized niche telescope?
      This was something people were *not* enthusiastic about; we need
      this telescope as a general-purpose facility.  There was some
      interest in a hybrid mode, in which we spend some fraction of
      our time with a specialized instrument or science project, but
      until there is a specific proposal for this niche
      instrument or project, it is unclear how to proceed. 
  -A futures committee is planned, with one person from each
      institution, which will look at the future of ARC (not just the 3.5m),
      on timescales starting in 3-5 years.  Integrated operations of
      the 2.5m and 3.5m?  Other telescopes on the site? 
  -There was strong endorsement and demand for infrared spectroscopic
      capabilities; people are enthusiastic about the planned JHU/Chicago instrument.
      The project is waiting on a proposal to the NSF; if that falls
      through, we'll need another way forward. 
  -The management has started a planning exercise of how to keep the 3.5m
      operable if the 2.5m were to close (given the many shared
      resources of the two facilities).   
  -Operational funding for the telescope: might the institutions supply
      a larger capital improvements budget?   This was not ruled out...
      All institutions were satisfied with the current budget; they
      didn't see significant cost-savings options.  

  At the meeting, Ed Kibblewhite exhorted us about the importance of
adaptive optics for modern observatories; if we don't have an effort
there, he fears we will fall behind the curve. 
  His argument was mostly focussed on near-infrared spectrographs.
Especially at high resolution, the larger the spectrograph slit, the
larger the optics of the spectrograph need to be, becoming
prohibitively expensive at a resolution of 20,000.  And of course, the
larger the slit, the more background light is let in.  We clearly need
to understand this better; Al Harper will ask Ed if he can recommend
some reading material about all of this, or join us in a future
meeting to discuss this matter. 

***********Implementation plans for the Telescope-User Interface 

  The Telescope-User Interface (TUI, or "Too-ee") is the Python-based
replacement for REMARK being developed by Russ Owen and Craig Loomis.
It currently can operate the telescope; instrument control is still
under development.  Folks at UW and NMSU have used it, as have the
folks on the mountain.  Russet McMillan reported that it has a very
nice control interface for the telescope, and is no more difficult to
use, and is more powerful, than REMARK.  It will include the guider
(although it is not clear whether this means that remote observers
will be able to watch or control the guider).  

  There is a hope that TUI will be available to observers by this
Fall, so now is the time to start thinking about the transition from
REMARK to TUI.  Each site will need to get Python up and running, of
course (free for Linux users).  It was suggested that the observing
specialists travel out to each of the member institutions to give
tutorials for its use.  We should have at least a few months of
overlap, during which both REMARK and TUI are available; this would be
important as the bugs are shaken out of TUI.

**************Observer-Observing Specialist interactions
  There have been a few occasions lately when the observing
specialists have been subject to the grumpiness and impoliteness of
some of the observers.  As always, make sure to treat the observing
specialists with the respect and civility due all your scientific

**********Status of NIC-FPS
  Jon Morse, who is the PI of the NIC-FPS instrument, is moving to ASU
as a tenured associate professor; we'll miss him from ARC!  He will
definitely continue to be involved in NIC-FPS.  But Jim Green (PI on
HST-COS) will take over the PI position for NIC-FPS.
  Mike Shull reported briefly on the schedule for the instrument (see
also last month's minutes):
    The optics arrived damaged.  They will be sent back to the vendor
	in the next week or so. 
    The engineering-grade chip should arrive in a week or so.  
    The science-grade chip should arrive by late July/early August. 
    The instrument is planned to deliver to ARC in August 2004, with
      commissioning taking place in Fall 2004. 

********3.5m 10th dedication anniversary
   The tenth anniversary of the dedication of the telescope will be
May 2004.  It has been suggested that we have a community-wide science
meeting to celebrate. 

  Last month's minutes are approved. 

  Next meeting, August 4, 11:30 AM Eastern time.  

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