ATUC Meeting
Report to the Director

at the ATNF in Epping, Sydney

- March 9/10, 2000 -

Report to the Director.

The meeting was held at the ATNF Headquarters, Marsfield, on March 9/10, 2000. The closed session commenced at 9:30 and ended at 16:00 on Friday, the 10th of March 2000.

Members in Attendance: Dr. Matthew Britton, Dr. Jessica Chapman, Dr. Dave Jauncey, Ms. Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, Dr. Maartje Sevenster, Dr. Ravi Sood, *Ms. Lisa Kewley, Dr. Mark Walker, Dr. Anne Green (Chair), Dr. Bärbel Koribalski (Secretary).
(* denotes replacement for non-attending ATUC members)

Apologies: Dr. Elizabeth Corbett, Dr. Marco Costa, Dr. Charley Lineweaver.

Absent: Dr Ramesh Balasubrahmanyan.

Ex-officio members: None present.

Appreciation was expressed to the members retiring at this meeting for their very valuable contributions to ATUC:
Dr. Britton, Dr. Costa, Ms. Johnston-Hollitt (student member), Dr. Sevenster, and particularly Dr. Koribalski (Secretary of ATUC).

Matters arising from the Director's response to the previous ATUC report:

(a) [Point 2b] ATUC supports the Director's initiative with respect to maintaining open access to large astronomical facilities. We would like him to continue to investigate the consequences of the reciprocal access model.

(b) [Point 3] ATUC accepts the implications of resources being required for the extension of the MOU with SEST and acknowledges the work of John Whiteoak in this co-operative enterprise. We need to look at the scientific outcomes from SEST and Mopra and their comparative potential given that Mopra is being upgraded. We acknowledge that SEST has a much higher frequency coverage than Mopra and that it provides Australian observers with the opportunity to gain expertise in many areas of mm-astronomy.

(b) [Point 5] ATUC is pleased to see that the VLBI scheduling and status information (e.g. "active" proposals) is now available on the web. Better documentation for preparation of VLBI proposals and data reduction is needed, e.g. all telescopes need to log their on-source times.

(b) [Point 8] The initiative of the Parkes OIC to quarantine the live operational system is to be applauded.

(b) [Point 9] ATUC is pleased to see the new web pages for ToO and NAPA proposals and results.

New Business Matters:

  1. Items pertaining to the Triennium Plan:
    (A) Outreach Program -
      (i) PhD Studentships - ATUC recommends that all ATNF-affiliated students receive an "ATNF Travel Scholarship" (at least 3000 Aus$) during the course of their PhD candidature.
      (ii) Outreach - The external profile of ATNF needs to be raised. ATUC repeats the request for a workshop to cover the effectiveness of the current Outreach Program and better definition of its outreach goals.
    (B) ATNF Budget priorities. If the budget is increased, ATUC would like to preserve the order of priorities established in 1999 (ie broad-band correlator, 7mm system and ATCA-Mopra fibre-link). We recommend that the design of the 2+ GHz correlator goes ahead. The value of the 7mm system is greatly enhanced by close linkage with the correlator upgrade (see item 12).
    (C) At this time ATUC sees no reason to revise the low priority assigned to moving CA06 onto the 3km track.

  2. ATUC is satisfied with the general level of communication between users and the ATNF and with the successful mechanisms which exist to enable more specific feedback. ATUC is worried about the current trend showing a decrease in Australian first-author papers. Pressure to reverse this trend might come if the TAC would take more account of the publication record of the proposers, for AT data.

  3. The ATNF Newsletter is very valuable and ATUC congratulates Raymond Haynes and his group on this publication. It is now no longer necessary to link the newsletter to the observing term deadlines. We suggest 2 or 3 issues per year would be acceptable.

  4. ATUC recommends acquiring the SETI Institute receiver (1-3 GHz) provided it comes at minimal cost.

  5. SETI at home -
    (a) At this stage ATUC is apprehensive about the use of Parkes as a platform for the "SETI at home" project. Before making a decision we would like feedback from both Arecibo/Cornell and Berkeley.
    (b) Using the "SETI at home" model, is there a possibility for the ATNF to engage the public in a similar interactive way ? (see item 1A)

  6. ATUC is enthusiastic about the new system to provide (a few) CDroms/tapes free to users.

  7. ATUC has considered Dave McConnell's Guidelines for Remote Observing and accepts all points, with the following additions:
    (a) Item 4) In general, restrict remote observing to no more than 30% per week. Ordinarily, remote observing blocks should not be longer than 24 hours per project.
    (b) Requests for remote observing should ordinarily be made as soon as the schedule is available.
    (c) Requests for remote observing must specify the name(s) of the actual observer(s) and their recent ATCA observing experience.

  8. ATUC congratulates Bob Sault and Dave McConnell for their work in improving the ATCA calibrator list. Further work on the 22GHz source list is a suitable project for an Honours student. We suggest that an archive of calibrator parameters be established from normal scheduled observations using a script provided by the ATNF.

  9. ATUC endorses the MNRF 3mm system as amended at the Meeting on the 22nd February, 2000.

  10. ATUC was very impressed by the RFI excision presentation from Jon Bell and strongly encourages further work in this direction with the goal of real-time RFI excision.

  11. ATUC does not have enough information to discuss the relationship of LOFAR to the ATNF.

  12. ATUC considers there is an opportunity for observing at 7mm with the ATCA as a complement to ALMA, once it is operational (see item 1B). In addition, the ATCA will continue to be a major player in cm astronomy since it is located in what will remain a low interference environment.

  13. ATUC recommends the appointment of an additional panel member, with mm expertise, to the TAC.

  14. ATUC is happy with the current level of support provided to the observers at the ATCA and Parkes.

  15. The next meeting is suggested for October, 2000. The proposed format would schedule the Open Session to start before lunch, and the Closed Session to be a full day.

  16. A list of possible new members was prepared for submission to the Steering Committee.

Anne Green (Chair)