ATUC Report to Director

4 March 2003

Preliminary Items

Apologies: David Barnes, Brad Gibson, Tony Wong

The committee extends a warm vote of thanks to the retiring ATUC members: Simon Ellingsen, David Barnes, Dion Lewis, Martin Meyer.

The committee extends special thanks to Ron Ekers for his service to the user community, as Director of the ATNF.

ATUC requests that the Director's response to this and future reports be available three weeks before the next ATUC meeting.

ATUC noted a concern that in a few cases the Director's response to our Nov 2002 report did not address the question posed in the ATUC report.

Matters arising from Director's Response to previous ATUC report:

ATUC is pleased to see that the schedules for the JAN03T term were published in good time.
ATUC is happy with the wording for the affiliation of ATNF students.

Matters arising from ATUC meeting 2002 November 6:

We reiterate the usefulness of the Future Developments document to the user community.

a) We request that ATNF maintains a high-level project overview available to the general community.
When ATUC is asked to prioritise a new project, we would like to see information along the lines of: overall cost in dollars and effort, and a target completion date (for existing projects). This was provided previously in a concise spreadsheet form.

We look forward to seeing all on-going projects showing a target date.

[action ATNF]

ATUC acknowledges that the mm observing procedures will take some time to settle.


We request ATNF thoroughly check the cross-referencing between the DA Checklist and the various ATCA web documentation.

[action ATNF]

a) ATUC is happy with the plan suggested by John Reynolds, to swap the 10/50cm receiver out 4 months into the NASA tracking period.


b) As part of the next Parkes report to ATUC we would like to see a plan for receiver availability during 2004. This plan should be included in the call for proposals for the Jan04 term.

[action ATNF]

a) ATUC's concern was that the 3mm project in the 2002 Nov Future Developments was dated 2002 April. The user community should have had the information about the delay in the Future Developments document, in advance of the ATUC meeting.

ATUC's concern about the impact of external contracts was not addressed in the response to question 15a in our last report: Are external contracts adversely impacting internal development projects?

[action ATNF]

b) ATUC looks forward to hearing about "horizon" projects at the next meeting.

[action ATNF]

a) ATUC requests a brief technical comparison of existing SKA demonstrator options, by the end of April 2003.

[action ATNF]

ATUC will then consider the scientific cases for each, based on the discussions that have taken place in 2002-2003. ATUC will publish a report discussing the matching science at the end of June 2003, allowing time for discussion before the next ATUC meeting.

[action ATUC]

This item would be reviewed if or when any LOFAR decisions are made.

b) ATUC requests an update of the status of the MNRF2001 program as a whole, in the next ATUC meeting.

[action ATNF]
ATUC congratulates Michelle Storey and the LOFAR project team on the success of the LOFAR siting team visit.

New Business items


Does ATUC have any comment on the new remote observing room set up ?

ATUC suggests the station needs some more desk space (for logbooks etc) and that either a laptop network connection port or another workstation be available.

[action ATNF]

Does ATUC have any comment on the policy of expiring the proprietary period for NAPA and ToOs which do not publish (in the IAU circulars, etc) the results of an observation within 1 week of making the observation?

ATUC is happy with the draft proposal for NAPA and ToO data release.


Does ATUC have any suggestions for the scheduling/operation of the ATCA during the IAU GA in July ?

ATUC suggests that the remote observing rules should be relaxed during the General Assembly and that this might be a useful maintenance period. We suggest it would be useful to have two duty astronomers during this period.
ATUC also suggests that there be a demonstration of remote observing from the General Assembly conference venue.

[action ATNF]

Does ATUC consider the user community is adequately informed about the Mars tracking period at Parkes?

ATUC suggests there be a short item in the next newsletter, showing the LST range affected by the tracking contract.

[action ATNF]

Does ATUC have any view on which Parkes receivers should be attended to next ?
Is there any demand for the SETI receiver?

ATUC suggests that the 22 GHz (K-band) receiver should be attended to next.
ATUC requests updated information on the instantaneous bandwidth and sensitivity of the SETI receiver in comparison with the other Parkes receivers.

[action ATNF]

ATUC will inform the user community and gauge interest in using the SETI receiver.

[action ATUC]

Is ATUC concerned that the SPC software is supported at the correct level ?
Does ATUC consider it a priority issue to standardise and support spectral line single-dish software ?

SPC should be replaced as a matter of urgency. ATUC will compile a brief report which outlines the major problems with SPC, by 2003 May 1.

[action ATUC]

We suggest that all spectral line single-dish data from AT facilities (including Tidbinbilla) should be able to be processed by a single software package. The obvious candidate for this is AIPS++.

[action ATNF]

Can ATUC suggest a solution to notifying users of expired VLBI proposals ?

ATUC is concerned that this has not yet been implemented.
The solution is an email to the PI of the proposal once it is obvious the observing will not be completed in the current calendar year.

[action ATNF]

Does ATUC have any concerns regarding the proposal to shift some VLBI operations to the University of Tasmania ?

ATUC requests a report from the LBA coordinator regarding the VLBI review (to be held 2003 March 5), at the next ATUC meeting. We welcome any increase in the size of the VLBI group in Tasmania. ATUC requests that the impact on the general user community be considered.

[action ATNF]

Radio Quiet Zones. Given the Green Bank experience, that the management of a RQZ would require 1 FTE, does ATUC consider this would be a good use of resources, if such a zone were established ?


[action ATNF]

Does ATUC want to comment on the issue of "guaranteed time" for Australian astronomers if LOFAR is sited in Australia ?

ATUC feels guaranteed time is unnecessary.

[action ATNF]

Does ATUC have any concerns about the operations of the online archive?

ATUC congratulates the ATNF on the rapid development of the online archive.
We look forward to hearing about the plans for how the archive will be operated, particularly for large download requests, at the next ATUC meeting.

[action ATNF]

Is ATUC concerned at the recent decline in successful ATCA applications from Australian Universities?

It is not clear there is a significant trend. ATUC will continue to monitor this.


Does ATUC consider that the ATCA positions and projects database is being managed properly?

ATUC is concerned that the projects and positions database is not working properly, e.g. project C1110 (scheduled in Sep 2002) shows no observed positions. We request the database be updated before each call for proposals.

[action ATNF]
Date of next meeting - orignally set for Monday 27 October and Tuesday 28 October, 2003 in Sydney.
Updated to - Monday 3 November and Tuesday 4 November, 2003 in Sydney.

Carole Jackson (ATUC Chair), 4 March 2003