ATUC Meeting
Report to the Director

at the ATNF in Epping, Sydney

- October 26/27, 2000 -

Report to the Director.

The meeting was held at the ATNF Headquarters, Marsfield, on October 26/27, 2000. The Foraml business Session (Closed Session) commenced at 9:30 h and ended at 17:30 h on Friday, the 27th of October 2000.

Members in Attendance: Dr. Ramesh Balasubramanyam, Dr. David Barnes, Ms. Hayley Bignall, Dr. Jessica Chapman, Dr. Elizabeth Corbett, Dr. Simon Ellingsen, Dr. Anne Green (Chair), Dr. Carole Jackson, Dr. Dave Jauncey, Dr. Bärbel Koribalski (outgoing secretary), Dr. Vince McIntyre (incoming secretary), Mr. Eric Muller, Dr. Mark Walker.

Apologies: Dr. Ravi Sood, Dr. Charley Lineweaver.

Ex-officio members: John Reynolds was present.

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

  • 1(A) Outreach program
    • (i) ATUC congratulates ATNF on establishing the Graduate Student Program and the generous level of funding. We recommend that the guidelines be amended so that:
      + all currently-affiliated ATNF students be eligible to apply for the travel grants.
      + the research proposal for new students should outline the facilities expected both from the host university and from the ATNF, that would be required for the success of the project.
    • (ii) ATUC endorses the goals outlined for the Outreach Program. We would like to see stronger links between Astronomy and related technology. ATUC recommends an Open Day be held at Marsfield HQ, with possible inclusion of AAO and that the Engineering Division be encouraged to participate.

  • 5a) ATUC is split on the question of approving the "SETI at home" proposal. A majority (for=9, against=2, abstained=2) supported the proposal with the provisos that a) the scientific data are not compromised by introduced RFI, and b) that there is no net cost to ATNF. Concerns were voiced about unauthorised access to the data from the approved astronomical program.

  • 5b) A majority of ATUC members (for=8, against=5, abstained=0) would like further exploration of possible science projects along the lines of the "SETI at home" model.

  • 5c) ATUC notes the PR opportunity of having astronomical images as screen-savers.

  • 8) ATUC considers that in most cases there should be no problem making calibrator data openly available, but in any flux monitoring programs (where calibrators are often the target sources) agreement must be obtained from the PIs involved. This recommendation is also to be applied retrospectively.

New Business Matters:

  1. ATUC strongly supports an increase in the Marsfield Lodge accommodation capacity.

  2. ATNF support for Australian institutional researchers is to be applauded and ATUC would like to suggest the following order of priority for support:
    + jointly-funded postdoctoral positions
    + encouragement of Australian university participation in the Distinguished Visitors program
    + page charge support for ATNF data publications

  3. ATUC submits the statistics on the status of recommendations as the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) on ATUC and ATNF management:
    MeetingTotal No.DoneNot done In progressN/A
    Mar 1999 18 9 4 1 4
    Sep 1999 17 12 2 1 2
    Mar 2000 23 9 2 0 12

  4. ATUC recommends that the 3 weeks following TAC meetings be kept free of all meetings involving the OICs, so that the observing schedules can be prepared in a timely manner.

  5. ATUC will poll users to rank usage and importance of the Parkes receivers to assist future maintenance and development scheduling.

  6. ATUC suggests that a session be organised at the next ASA meeting to debate the scheduling mechanisms for mm-wave observing.

  7. Concerning ATCA NAPAs, ATUC recommends that an acceptable level for an automatic overide interrupt on scheduled observing be a loss of up to half an hour per project, per term. In addition, the automatic trigger programs should be re-evaluated after the first term of operation. We expect the TAC to determine which programs will be uninterruptable.

  8. The majority of ATUC (for=2, against=10, abstained=1) does not support the concept of paid Service Observing on the ATCA at the present time.

  9. ATUC assigns a scientific priority of 1 to both the Wideband Continuum Correlator (single-baseline operation) and a duplicate of the ATCA Pulsar Integrator (PINT) for Parkes. A report on the science cases for both the Parkes 22 GHz multibeam and focal plane arrays is requested for the next ATUC meeting. ATUC requests clarification of the scientific opportunities for Australian use of the AMIBA facilities.

  10. ATUC recognises the value of enhanced expertise and technology from continuing astronomy-related external contract work, particularly in view of the termination of MNRF funding in 2002.

  11. ATUC gives the following feedback to the AIPS++ manager:
    + more workshops to be arranged at ATNF
    + roadshow talks to be given at Institutions
    + demonstrations of imaging, and high impact applications to be given at scheduled meetings
    + suggest a new name for the system?

  12. ATNF is a complex integrated computing environment. We fail to see any significant benefit from further IT outsourcing. This will have a major negative impact on our scientific productivity. For example, we need to preserve the current levels of time-critical online computing support and ensure data security. The process has already had a significant negative impact on personnel productivity and resources.

  13. ATUC supports the idea of a Synthesis Imaging School in September 2001 at Narrabri. We recommend a session on single-dish observing be included.

  14. ATUC recommends that the possibility of installing one of the new 3.5mm InP receivers on Mopra for next winter be explored in the next MNRF mm-meeting. This action is not to interrupt the installation of the single baseline prototype system at ATCA. We endorse the idea of restricting support for Mopra to periods of VLBI observing and the annual period supported by UNSW.

  15. ATUC congratulates the INT-MIT team on their progress in RFI mitigation and encourages further scientific projects in this area. For example; 20cm Parkes solar baseline ripple, 1612 MHz GLONASS.

  16. ATUC feels that the web pages are in need of improvement and would be more helpful if they included: a) an on-line sensitivity calculator for all ATNF telescopes; b) more prominently-positioned deadlines and configuration availability, including nonstandard configurations; c) improvements to the web-based scheduling program (example: inputs for mosaicing, the risk of overwriting existing schedules).

  17. Next meeting; before Easter 2001 (e.g. March 20/21). The members recommended retaining the same format as for this meeting.

Anne Green (Chair)