Subject: APO 3.5-m Users Committee minutes 10/18/04

From: Bruce Gillespie

Submitted: Wed, 20 Oct 2004 14:47:11 -0600

Message number: 847 (previous: 845, next: 849 up: Index)

					APO 3.5-m Users Committee Phonecon, 10/18/04

Attending:  Ed Turner, Suzanne Hawley, Jon Holtzman, Michael Strauss, 
Russet McMillan, Karl Glazebrook, Rene Walterbos, Don York, Bruce 
Balick, Bruce Gillespie, John Bally

Absent:  Al Harper

Minutes taken by Bruce Gillespie


ARC Board of Governors meeting preparations:

Ed Turner pointed out that the "Science Highlights" section of the 
annual report is very important, especially to the administrative board 
members who like to see their institution highlighted.  We have 
received so far only a couple of highlights, and implore the users 
committee members (or users themselves) to send us their 3.5-m science 
highlight from the past year, preferably with images and/or graphics.  
Please send these to Ed Turner and Bruce Gillespie, not later than the 
end of next week.

Also, Rene Walterbos generates an annual list of publications and 
theses for inclusion in the annual report.  So far, he's received 
nothing from the committee members and he would much appreciate your 
sending him these, even if incomplete.  If he gets no direct input, 
he'll use "Ed's list" as a starter, which is compiled from the 
publications given in the 3.5-m observing proposals.  Any paper 
submitted since 1 October last year qualifies, whether or not it has 
been refereed or published.  Also, he will list theses in progress, 
whether or not they've been defended.  Rene would like to have these in 
hand by the end of this week.

On policy and strategic issues, Ed stated that the Futures Committee 
will meet the day following the annual Board meeting.  Don York, who 
chairs the Futures Committee, may be invited to attend the Board 
meeting.  Ed said the major strategic events of the coming year are 
Suzanne Hawley's appointment as 3.5-m Director, negotiations with 
potential new ARC partners, and whether or not SDSS-II is awarded NSF 
funding.  Since the NSF proposal outcome will probably not be known 
until next spring, it is unlikely that the Board will take any major 
strategic decisions next month.  Suzanne said she will present some 
strategic material to the Board in November.  Ed mentioned that there 
are significant APO staff retention issues looming with the SDSS-II 
being uncertain, and discussions are underway to find ways to mitigate 
the effects of next year's funding uncertainties.  Don mentioned that 
one of the roles of the Users Committee is to "use the telescope," and 
its recommendation should be to find ways to maintain staffing so that 
the telescope can continue to be used effectively.


NIC-FPS status:

Ed Turner announced that during the past month NIC-FPS successfully 
completed its "pre-commissioning" run at APO, in spite of some 
unusually bad weather.  John Bally reported that the instrument had 
"first light" and exhibited superb image quality.  There were problems 
with sticky filters wheels that have since been resolved by replacing 
some bearings.  Also, there is a 61kHz noise pattern in the data, which 
went away when NIC-FPS was returned to Boulder for clean-up and 
installation of the science-grade chip prior to the November 
commissioning runs.  The noise must be some kind of pickup when the 
instrument is in the dome, and could be a RF pickup and/or shielding 
problem.  The APO site staff are looking into possible sources of the 
noise, and this will hopefully be dealt with before or during the 
upcoming commissioning period.  The IR Fabry-Perot etalon is now up and 
running, and the science-grade chip will be installed next week.

After commissioning in November, we hope to leave NIC-FPS at APO.  
Information on expected performance will be posted by the end of this 
month (including a list of built-in filters) and ARC users will be 
invited to propose to use NIC-FPS in "shared-risk" mode in Q1 2005.  
User support information and some hand-holding will be provided, and 
proposers and institutional TACs should have back-up programs ready if 
awarded NIC-FPS time.  We expect NIC-FPS to be used largely in campaign 
mode during the bright time in Q1.


CorMASS hits the road:

Bruce G. reported that UVirginia and VATT staff arrived at APO this 
weekend to pack up CorMASS, and they left this morning to return it to 
the VATT where is has observing obligations.  Early next year, CorMASS 
will again hit the road for a short test run at Magellan.  Afterwards, 
it is currently TBD where CorMASS will reside when it returns to the 
U.S.  If negotiations with UVa for joining ARC are fruitful, one 
scenario has CorMASS residing at our 3.5-m more or less permanently.  
Suzanne said it would be useful for her to know the level of user 
interest in CorMASS while we are holding discussions with UVa.


UVa, Triplespec discussions:

Suzanne has been in touch with John Wilson and Mike Skrutskie at UVa, 
and she's asked them for a Triplespec near-IR spectrograph proposal by 
22 October.  This will be reviewed by friends and family such as Chris 
Stubbs, Jim Gunn, Alan Uomoto, and Connie Rockosi, among others.  Don 
York suggested also asking Al Harper to review the proposal, if he has 
the time.  The question of UVa participation as a member of ARC is also 
being worked.  Suzanne has determined that the consortium has enough 
telescope time to sell to be interesting to UVa, and even with some 


UWashington High-speed Photometer:

Suzanne said that as a follow-up to last month's announcement of a 
pending proposal to build a high-speed camera for the 3.5-m, Anjum 
Mukadam and her collaborators have updated and expanded their white 
paper [contact your Users Committee rep or Anjum at for a copy].  Suzanne needs prospective 
users from ARC institutions to express their interest in using this 
instrument at APO.  The plan is to ask for partial funding by the NSF, 
and matching funding from ARC.  It was not clear how soon this proposal 
is to be submitted, but if ARC fund-matching is proposed, it will need 
some form of Board endorsement which will take a little time to 
arrange.  Jon Holtzman pointed out that the proposed field-of-view is 
smallish, such that it may be difficult to have bright and suitable 
comparison stars in the same field.  There was discussion of potential 
interest:  Yes from UWashington and NMSU, maybe at UChicago, probably 
no from PU, and no comment from JHU or Colorado.  It was pointed out 
that having this instrument at APO is nearly a unique capability--the 
only other comparable is at McDonald on a smaller telescope.  Don York 
wondered if we could sub-raster the Nasmyth guider to a fast frame rate 
which would give us the performance being looked for.  Russet said that 
the guider read time was about 8 seconds full-frame 3 x 3 binned, and 
we don't have the s/w in place to sub-raster the chip.  Suzanne 
concluded by asking the Users Committee members to poll their 
communities for expressions of interest in a high-speed camera, and to 
get back to her before the Board meeting (15 November).


Telescope, Instrument, CIF reports:

Bruce G. reported that not much has changed since last month.  The 
telescope and instruments are performing generally very well.  Jon 
Holtzman mentioned that the episodic noise in DIS is an unsolved 
problem, and is likely affecting some science being done with DIS, 
especially full-slit spectra of extended objects.  We need to collect 
more samples of these elusive noise events with DIS, and users who see 
them should notify the Observing Specialists and/or

The major CIF projects in work include TUI, which is having its guiding 
modules merged into a unified subroutine, and the new top-end design, 
for which a significant amount of design work was accomplished in the 
past month.


Last month's minutes were approved without comment.

Next phonecon will be on Monday, November 22, 2004, at 11:30 AM Eastern 

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