Director's Response ATUC meeting 6 November 2002

From previous ATUC meetings:

5. ATUC will continue to solicit user feedback on the timeliness of AT schedule releases.

14 Nov - The schedule for the month of January was released to affected observers
25 Nov - Final complete schedule released

Parkes Jan03T schedule published in full on 30th November 2002. All observers received minimum 6 weeks' notice.

8. ATUC requests a brief update on the progress of the VO project at the next ATUC meeting.

Dave McConnell will be in the USA participating in an AIPS++ review, but Robin Wark will summarise current status of the ATCA implementation and Ray Norris will outline future plans.

13. ATUC considers the fixed $500 budget for student publications is an acceptable and straightforward policy.
ATUC strongly recommends that the only affiliation be given as the University, and the footnote wording be -

* Affiliated with the Australia Telescope National Facility, CSIRO.

The reduced wording is intended to reflect that ATUC does not endorse identifying authors on papers as students.

ATNF accepts this proposal.

From Lister Staveley-Smith:

The ATNF will shortly implement the new $500 publication support for all affiliated students. It will be available to all students who have submitted papers after 1 January 2003, and who list their ATNF affiliation on their paper. The support will be remain available for one year after Ph.D. thesis submission.

We have no problem with the University affiliation being the primary or only affiliation listed and are happy to recommend that to students.

ATUC requests that the affiliation footnote be changed to
"Affiliated with the Australia Telescope National Facility, CSIRO"
from the form that ATUC agreed to on 12 April 2002:
"name.. is a graduate student jointly enrolled at the name.. and the Australia Telescope National Facility.".

If ATUC is sure this time, the student coordinator will implement this change. The appropriate web pages will be updated after the ATUC meeting, but before April 1.

New items, from ATUC Meeting 6 November 2002

1. The Future Developments document is very useful for ATUC and the wider user community, who rely on it for planning future science.
a) ATUC notes a few inconsistencies in the current version (2002 Nov 4) and requests that the Future Developments document is maintained rigorously by the project leaders.
b) ATUC requests a target date be shown for each project, which is reviewed by the engineering group before the ATUC meetings. Abandoned projects should be flagged as such in the Completed Projects document.

We had hoped to have an automatic update procedure to link this document to the project Management data base using new CSIRO PMI tools. The required tools are not yet available, so we are still updating this document by hand.

2. ATUC considers the current site safety procedures are adequate and welcomes the recent attention given to improving safety.


a) ATUC considers some more feedback from ATAC on individual observing proposals would be useful.
b) We request a short distillation of the ATAC discussion on each proposal, and the summed score of the proposal.
c) It would also be helpful to proposers to know the mean score of all proposals.

Brian Schmidt is new ATAC chair and is establishing a number of new procedures.
a) The TAC has changed the way that it reports back to the proposers. More detailed comments are now given and are written by the TAC Chair.
b) For each proposal, the TAC now reports on the average grade given to the proposal, and for comparison with other proposals, the average grade for all proposals given time is also given.
c) as above a)

4. ATUC suggests the ATCA mm/cm swap system be run again in the 2003 mm observing season.
a) We suggest that two boxes be added to the ATCA proposal form - "swappable project", and "service observing".
b) Service observing should only be available to projects marked as available for swapping. A request for service observing may not automatically be granted, even if the proposal is successful.
c) We support the option of employing operators on a casual basis to perform the service observations, assuming this will affect ~ 10 days per season.

Service observing was offered in May-2003 term. Requests for this mode of observing were disappointing - 3 requests, and in arrays unsuitable for 3mm observing. Some proposals volunteered as swappable. The means of giving 3-mm observers robustness to the weather in the coming term is being reassessed.

5. ATUC supports natural collaborations between ATNF and other CSIRO divisions, but sees no need to actively change the current strength of the ATNF in international and national collaborations.


6. ATUC considers the observing term length for ATNF facilities should remain unchanged at 4 months.


7. ATUC recommends the DA Checklist have cross references to the Compact Array Users' Guide and that a check be made that all the references actually resolve.

Some progress has been made towards cross-referencing the Checklist with the various ATCA web documentation, but the process is not complete. A significantly updated version of the Users Manual is nearing completion (ATUC talk by Jess O'Brien).

8. ATUC encourages the idea of a synthesis workshop in May 2003, with an emphasis on mm observing and imaging.

This has now been scheduled for 12 to 16 May 2003.

9. ATUC supports the proposal for overseas remote observing. ATUC will review this item in late 2003.


10. ATUC urges the completion of the 10/50cm receiver.
a) During the Mars tracking contract we suggest the 10/50cm receiver be installed (rather than the MultiBeam).
b) We recommend the HI MultiBeam be serviced during this period (September 2003 to March 2004). We will review this at the next ATUC meeting, in light of progress on the 10/50cm receiver.

Delivery in August 2003, as forecast at the last ATUC meeting, is still on-track.
a) Subject to discussion at this upcoming ATUC, and subject to delivery of the 10/50cm receiver, this is our current intention. John Reynolds' recommendation will be that the Multibeam be displaced by the 10/50cm receiver for something like 4 months, rather than 6 months, if possible.
b) This again is our current intention, subject to further discussion at this ATUC.

11. ATUC has no objection to stopping the subscription to the paper copies of the main astronomical journals in the facility libraries (Narrabri, Parkes and Epping), assuming online subscriptions are in place.

Thanks for the feedback. We may stop the paper subscriptions at Narrabri and Parkes. Library Epping prefer to continue with paper copies. Cost saving is not large.

12. ATUC recommends that the VLBI strategic meeting in early 2003 consider the level of support provided by ATNF and University of Tasmania.

The VLBI strategic meeting is scheduled for 5th March 2003, to discuss future directions for the LBA. Support levels by different institutions will be part of this discussion.

13. ATUC suggests that targeted promotion of a single high-profile ATNF project at the January meeting of the American Astronomical Society would be a good way to raise the international profile of ATNF.

At the Jan 2003 AAS in Seatle we concentrated on exposure for the IAU GA in Sydney. We will take this suggestion on board for future meetings.

14. ATUC looks forward to the mm science workshop, and emphasising mm-wave observation in the synthesis workshop. We encourage the work being done on improving other aspects of the observing system. ATUC encourages Australian mm experts to bring in "new faces" to mm projects.

The mm science workshop was a great success with a full day of science talks on 21 Nov 2002, highlighting last year's results. However, we are aware of the need to broaden the user base for the mm systems, and one way we are trying to do so is to emphasise mm observing and astronomy more in the next ATNF Synthesis Imaging Workshop, which will occur 12-16 May 2003. We anticipate that the IAU General Assembly will also showcase ATCA's mm capability to a broad international audience that may not have been aware of it.

a) ATUC is concerned at the slippage in particular projects although we appreciate the long-term strategic need for external contracts. However it is clear that the community is unhappy with the current state of internal development projects. We make the comment that timely communication of delays to the user community is vital.

The "communication of delays" mainly concerns the 3mm systems. The community was informed 6 months ahead of the deadline, we need to ask what ATUC considers as timely.

If an earlier warning is required, it might be difficult to achieve without resorting to a very conservative approach to project planning, which could lead, generally, to longer delays to completion of certain projects. A lot of what we do is leading edge and difficult to project accurately. I think its all part of the "risks" we take in pushing things as hard as we do. In such a scenario, surprises will occur.

We will of course continue attempt to communicate changes to project schedules as soon as they become apparent.

ATUC expressed strong concerns about the delays in the 3mm system development.

The current expectation is that the 12mm upgrade will be completed by June, and we hope to have a final version of the 3mm receiver system ready for testing on one antenna by the end of winter.

b). ATUC suggests that a listing of future 'horizon' project ideas be incorporated into the Future Development document, to help us to consider possible synergies.

The "horizon" project ideas will be picked up and included after our next strategic discussion session on Future Developments.

16. ATUC requests that the Director ensures there is a report to the ATUC open meeting on the TAC proposal statistics. We request the statistics for the last reporting period be provided to the committee.

This will be included in the Director's report.

a) ATUC repeats its request that the SKA Project Scientist provide a demonstrator science case for each of the ATNF SKA demonstrator options discussed at the Open Session on November 5.

SKA Demonstrator opportunities are still evolving as will be outlined in the ATUC meeting. We agree that it is critical to further develop the corresponding science cases.

b) ATUC will schedule MNRF2 update segment in the next ATUC open meeting


18. ATUC is pleased to learn of the LOFAR siting white paper. We encourage ATNF to pursue options for participation both in science and technology relating to LOFAR. We support the suggestion for a LOFAR science discussion in early 2003.

There has been a great deal of positive progress on LOFAR. The LOFAR science meeting was held in January. The LOFAR Consortium sent delegates to visit Australian sites and talk to the Australian stakeholders 3 to 8 February.

19. ATUC requests a compilation of the proposal statistics be made available on the web, showing breakdowns along the lines of the annual report presentation.

New web pages showing TAC statistics will be provided from end-March 2003.

20. ATUC is pleased to hear that a new ACC will be installed at Mopra before winter 2003. We also look forward to the hiring of a new staff member to focus on improving Mopra operations, such as observing software, pointing and antenna efficiency.

The new ACC project is tantalisingly close to completion at the ATCA. The ACCs at Mopra will be upgraded once the ATCA is complete. We expect Stuart Robertson (Mopra Operations) to start in early May.