Australia Telescope Users Committee

Report to the Director on the meeting held at the Australia Telescope National Facility,
Epping NSW on Wednesday, 23rd November 1994

The AT Users Committee meeting commenced at 0830 and ended at 1530. The members present were Professor P M McCulloch (Chair), Dr D G Blair, Dr R W Clay, Dr J Chapman (for Dr M Drinkwater), Dr P J Hall, Dr R W Hunstead, Dr K Jones, Dr M G Burton, Dr R P Norris, Dr S Johnston, Dr J Reynolds, Dr L Staveley-Smith (Secretary), Dr R Vaile, Dr P Wood and Dr G White.

Apologies were received from Prof K C Freeman.

After preliminary discussions the meeting was open to any interested users from 0900.

This was the last meeting of Drs Blair, Hunstead, Hyland and Zealey. The committee thanks these members for their service and also thanks Dr G Robertson for his service as chairman of the past few meetings. The Steering Committee informed the Users Committee that Drs M Costa, E Sadler and M Mazzolini have been appointed to the committee from 1995.

Matters arising from the Director's comments on the previous ATUC report.

ATUC agreed to coordinate the joint AAO/ATNF symposium to be held in conjunction with the AAO Board and the ATNF Steering Committee meetings in March 1995. The possibility of holding a Users Meeting at the same time was discussed but was generally felt to be too difficult to schedule as it would require university members to be away from teaching duties for too long. The Committee felt that it might be possible to organise combined meetings in the future if they could be scheduled in the mid semester break and requests the Director to investigate this possibility. Some Committee members expressed a desire to attend the joint symposium and pointed out that they had no source of funds for such an exercise. The Committee therefore requests ATNF funding for members without other support to attend joint AAO/ATNF symposia.

The following resolutions were agreed to by the ATUC:

1. The ATUC supports the involvement of the ATNF in the Major National Research Facilities (MNRF) proposal on VLBI submitted by the University of Tasmania.

2. ATUC supports the University of Tasmania Key Centre proposal for a Centre for Radio Interferometry and Imaging, and requests the Director to write a letter indicating strong support for the proposal and, in particular, the relocation of the VLBI correlator to Hobart.

3. ATUC supports the MNRF proposal for High Frequency Extension of Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF). However the Committee expressed the view that the proposal was too diversified and would have a greater chance of success if it was more directed. The ATUC gave high priority to the extension of the precision surface on the Mopra antenna and urged careful consideration be given to equipping five telescopes on the compact array at 3mm. The Committee rated the extension of the high precision surface on the Parkes telescope and the installation of a 3mm receiver on this telescope as relatively low priority. Little support was voiced for any of the 7mm systems. The Committee discussed the relative priorities of equipping the compact array at 3mm and a 3mm focal plane array at Mopra but made no recommendation as it did not feel that there had been sufficient opportunity to develop a scientific case for the focal plane array. The ATUC urged that the priorities within the final proposal should be determined on scientific grounds and not on the basis of possible offset deals with ESO.

4. ATUC recommends that all target of opportunity proposals be considered on their merits as and when proposed and that general requests for future observations of a claim-staking nature should not be allowed The Committee agreed with the proposal on ToO observations with the following recommendations. A ToO proposal is one which is sufficiently urgent that time must be granted before the proposal can be considered by the TAC. Proposals that have been reviewed by the TAC should not be considered as ToO even though they may only require very short periods of telescope time. The phrase 'any information obtained with ATNF facilities be made promptly available' should be interpreted or reworded to mean 'raw-data obtained with ATNF facilities be made publicly available immediately following observations'.

5. The ATUC considered the proposal regarding access to data and protection for scheduled observers and makes the following recommendations. a) Data from all ATNF facilities should be available 18 months after they are collected, unless a special case for increased protection is made. b) No observer should have exclusive rights to any source or specific area of sky. The TAC may allocate time to other users 18 months after the initial observations.

6. The ATUC was concerned that time critical projects will be compromised by the use of Parkes for the SETI and Galileo projects during 1995. The ATUC sees significant advantages in having a larger block of normal observing time between SETI and Galileo and urges consultation with NASA with the aim of delaying commencement of the Galileo project.

7. The ATUC commends the collaborating institutions on their efforts in obtaining funding for the Parkes Multibeam Project. The Committee recognises that this facility has many potential uses and urges the group to consult with other potential users before finalising the design of the system so as not to exclude additional projects. We recommend that the facility be advertised in the AT newsletter to alert potential users to its availability and modes of data access.

8. Use of Mopra as a stand alone mm wave telescope. The ATUC accepted that for 1995 the Mopra antenna would operate in test mode for mm wave observations but felt that the development of mm wave astronomy was restricted by a lack of expertise within the community. To alleviate this problem the Committee suggests the ATNF hold a workshop on mm wave astronomy at Mopra to give potential users 'hands on' experience and consider experience in mm wave astronomy as a criterion for future post-doc positions.

9. The ATUC reminds the Director of a previous request to report to the Committee on calibration of the compact array and further requests that bug reports and quality monitoring information be circulated to the ATUC.

10. The ATUC requests a status report on remote observing and asks the ATNF to encourage users to participate in trials of remote observing. The ATNF should accept Margaret Mazzolini's offer to participate in such trials.

P M McCulloch

Last updated: 6 December 1994