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25th of May 2020
First round of ASKAP Pilot Surveys completed
by Vanessa Moss
On the 14th May 2020 at 08:58:55 UT, we finished observing the first round of ASKAP Pilot Surveys. These surveys began officially on 15th July 2019 at 10:08:44 UT, which means that the completion of Pilot Surveys took 26,261,411 seconds (or around 304 days). It's been an action-packed 304 days for everyone involved with the ASKAP project, and reaching this point was a great chance to sit back and celebrate in a small way how far we have come. The Pilot Surveys involved observing ~100 hr for nine different ASKAP surveys: EMU, WALLABY, POSSUM, DINGO, CRAFT, VAST, GASKAP, FLASH and LIGO. Throughout this process, every aspect of observing with ASKAP was tested and refined to maximise reliability in response to issues encountered, and we have learnt many important lessons as a result. These lessons will translate into how Pilot Surveys Phase II plays out, and how we carry out an effective transition into full operations in 2021. To unofficially celebrate the reaching of this milestone, I thought it would be nice to have a mini online gathering of people from across the project to all get together and watch the last seconds of the final GASKAP Pilot Survey field. Luckily, ASKAP agreed to play along and we all toasted to the end of Pilot Surveys at ~19:00 AEST on Thursday 14th May. I'd like to say a huge thanks to everyone who was able to join, it was great to have such a diverse cross-section of ASKAP together and I really enjoyed seeing everyone together in one telecon! I also want to thank specifically Aidan Hotan, Zoe Taylor, Brett Hiscock, Adam Macleod, Aaron Chippendale, Matt Whiting and Elaine Sadler who at short notice agreed to say a few words about the end of the Pilot observations. And lastly, thank you to everyone in the project who has contributed to get it to this stage for all your hard work, especially over the last 304 days which were pretty intense! I'm looking forward to the next phase of ASKAP surveys to come, but also very much to the present shift in focus (and coming improvements) as we give priority to development, testing, maintenance and processing over the next few months of the consolidation period.

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