Director's response to ATUC Meeting Report to Director - March, 2001

[Director's comments are in italics]


[Point 1]. ATUC is pleased with the planned increase in Marsfield Accommodation but would like more details on the time frame for completion.

We have gone to tender, the order has now been placed and we expect completion within 3 months.


[Point 3]. Key Performance Indicators. We will suggest some minor amendments to the formatting and will establish progress on KPI as a standing item 1 on the agenda.



[Point 4]. An important issue for ATUC is that observing schedules are available one month before the start of each term. ATUC suggests the following possibilities could be explored:

a. An acting OIC be appointed for the fortnight required for scheduling

b. Delegating the scheduling

c. Moving the date of the AT Steering Committee meeting

d. Changing the dates of the observing terms

We thank ATUC for its suggestions. At present, we believe the goal of ensuring that every observer gets at least one month's notice is being achieved, but will continue to review the process if we find that we are falling short of this.


[Point 5]. ATUC thanks the OIC Parkes for surveying the Parkes users and coming up with recommendations for receivers to be upgraded and maintained.

Noted with thanks.


[Point 16]. ATUC applauds the appointment of a full-time web manager.

Noted with thanks.

New Agenda Items


1. ATUC has given feedback on the Letter of Intent for the next round of MNRF proposals. It is vital for the users to be involved with the preparation of the full ATNF-led MNRF-II proposal. ATUC proposes to organize an open forum for discussion and feedback to assist the preparation of the application.

We thank ATUC for its valuable input, which contributed significantly to the success of the MNRF proposal.


2. In response to a user concern, ATUC would like to clarify that at Mopra, VLBI observing is available all year. Millimetre-wave observing is normally only available in the southern winter. Full observer support is provided during these periods. Outside these periods, applications are treated by the ATNF on a case-by-case basis.

We can confirm that non-VLBI observing is currently confined to the UNSW-supported "National Facility" time during winter, and that VLBI observing is supported by the ATNF VLBI group during all scheduled VLBI periods throughout the year.


3. ATUC congratulates the ATNF on provision of the sensitivity calculator web page, and the web-based ATCA calibrator database.

Noted with thanks.


4. ATUC supports the idea of an online archive of Compact Array data. Since significant resources will be required for implementation, the scientific priority of this project will be ranked at a future date. ATUC requests a full proposal to include: an online raw data archive, and extension to fully calibrated datasets. A first step towards this would be to improve the functionality of the current online index.

A long term goal is to provide a full online archive, as part of the international Virtual Observatory initiave, but at present there is no active champion for this development, and the attention of ATNF staff is fully occupied by the millimetre upgrade and the MNRF2001 developments. We invite members of ATUC, or any other AT user, to explore, promote, and develop a realistic project which could then be investigated and costed by ATNF for ranking against other proposed projects.



5. ATUC supports guided tours of the Parkes Telescope tower, as long as scientific or observing programs are not compromised. More extensive access to the telescope by limited numbers of people should be available on designated days. Safety issues need to be investigated.

The precise form which regular tours of the Parkes telescope tower will take is still under consideration, but ATUC's points are well made and noted.



6. a) ATUC recommends that large surveys continue to be ranked and reviewed by the TAC according to existing guidelines.

This recommendation will be forwarded to TAC.


b) ATUC congratulates Roopesh Ojha for his initiative on the LBA polarimetry system.

Noted with thanks.


c) ATUC assigns priority of 1 to the proposed 6GHz multibeam system for Parkes.

A draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been prepared and submitted to Jodrell Bank Observatory (JBO) for comments. We are hosting a visit this week (starting Monday 12th November) by Neil Roddis, chief engineer JBO, and Danielle Kettle, project engineer for the Faraday collaboration, to finalise the 6-month Multibeam project details and timescales.


d) ATUC recognizes the scientific value of the proposed 22GHz multibeam system for Parkes. We will be in a better position to rank this proposal after results from the single-baseline 22GHz survey at ATCA are available.



7. ATUC is pleased that the ATNF is attracting an increasing number of international proposals. We request statistics on the fraction of time allocated to projects with overseas PIs. Information on team composition for successful projects would also be helpful in assessing the impact upon access for Australian observers, particularly students.

This information will be presented to the ATUC meeting.


8. ATUC supports the proposed taxi service (ATNF funded) for observer transport at Narrabri and the introduction of the phone card system at the ATCA.

Both the taxi service from Narrabri Airport to the Observatory, and the sale of phone cards have been implemented.


9. ATUC supports the division of spectrum management into two areas: widespread preservation of existing bands and new protections at selected sites.

Both approaches are being pursued at ATNF. A submission by ATNF was made to the current review of the Radiocommunications Act by the Productivity Commission, arguing for better regulatory mechanisms to protect Radio Astronomy bands. New protections at selected sites is part of the SKA effort both in Australia and internationally via the OECD Global Science Forum. The ATNF is setting up an internal spectrum management group to coordinate spectrum management efforts at all ATNF observatories.



10. On the question of weather-dependent scheduling at the ATCA, ATUC intends to allocate some time for discussion at the next Reports (Open) session of the User's Committee. This discussion is to resolve a longstanding item from previous ATUC reports.



11. ATUC recommends that there be some hands-on AIPS++ analysis during the synthesis workshop in September 2001. Similar practical training would be most useful for the roadshow visits.

During the synthesis workshop two 2hour practical sessions were available. Attendees were given the opportunity to select the aips++ sessions. In these they were to use the aips++ toolkit to write Glish scripts to achieve two specified goals. They were provided with documentation and personal help.