ATUC Meeting
Report to the Director

at Narrabri

- November 27, 1998 -

Report to the Director.

Report to the Director on the Meeting held at Narrabri on Friday 27 November 1998.

The meeting commenced at 13:00 and ended at 17:30.

Members present: Dr A. Green (Chair), Dr B. Koribalski (Secretary), Dr J. Bland-Hawthorn, Dr M. Britton, Ms K. Brooks, Dr M. Costa, Dr P. Jones, Dr N. Killeen, Dr M. Sevenster, Dr M. Wieringa. A welcome was extended to new members of ATUC attending their first meeting, Dr T. Bourke, Dr J. Chapman, Dr D. Jauncey, Dr C. Lineweaver, Ms M. Putman, Dr D Rayner, Dr I. Stewart.

Guests: Dr. E. de Blok, Dr. J. Reynolds

Appreciation for their contribution to ATUC was expressed to members retiring at this meeting, Dr J. Bland-Hawthorn, Ms K. Brooks, Dr N. Killeen, Mr B. Gaensler, Dr C. Heisler, Dr A. Wright. We thank them for their input and wish them well in the future.

Apologies have been received from Mr B. Gaensler, Dr C. Heisler, Dr C. Smith, Dr A. Wright.

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

(a) [Point 0] ATUC agrees with the ATNF's policy for the release of archival data.

(b) [Point 2] ATUC agrees with the revised policy for observations of transient sources.

(c) [Point 6] ATUC sees no problem with the timetable suggested for the 10/50cm Parkes receiver and is happy for the RFI mitigation system to be developed under the SKA project.

(d) [Point 8] ATUC emphasises the importance of AT Observer's Questionnaires and that a follow-up reminder from site operations be sent for non-compliance. Detailed comments are to be actively sought, as being of more value than simple ranking.

New Business Matters:

  1. Triennium Funding: For an increase of 20 percent in funding ATUC
    • strongly supports and ranks most highly, an increase in the number postdoctoral positions,
    • strongly endorses an increase in resources for outreach programs,
    • strongly endorses increased R&D for the SKA,
    • strongly approves R&D and implementation of a process for RFI mitigation,
    • approves the building of the prototype element of the SKA,
    • considers the correlator upgrade less important,
    • less strongly endorses the movement of the 6-km antenna into the 3-km array,
    • has medium support for developing Mopra as a National Facility.

    For a decrease of 20 percent in funding ATUC feels that all methods of budget saving should be pursued which avoid cuts to the core scientific capabilities that the ATNF supplies to its User Community or significant staff reductions. (Particularly given the large MNRF funding boost that has been made to improve ATNF facilities.) We therefore can support only the following three options:
    i) operate Visitor Centres and Lodges as a franchise,
    ii) lease the telescopes for external use (Mopra to be considered separately as it is undersubscribed),
    iii) engineering group to take on external contracts.

    ATUC considers any Major Facilities reduction detrimental to international collaborations.

  2. ATUC recommends that to promote more accessible use by a wider fraction of the astronomical community, an improvement in documentation (observing and data reduction) by the VLBI National Facility is essential.

  3. ATUC would like to emphasise the importance of RFI mitigation at the observatories and approves the reduction of internally generated interference (as covered by TIMS and the Screen Investigation for Parkes). ATUC recommends an improvement of the interference database to make it more accessible and to include, as far as possible, time and strength information.

  4. ATUC will endorse a proposal to interrupt scheduled observation at ATCA to pursue pointing assessments and appreciates the intention of the OIC to use in the first instance the period between the hardware and software stows on the telescope. It appears that a relaxation of the software limit could degrade observations but would not compromise safety concerns.

  5. ATUC approves the introduction of the new east-west stations first, and endorses the recommended plan for new array configurations from the OIC. It would be helpful to have the new arrays included in the VRI.

  6. ATUC suggests a dedicated workshop to discuss issues of flexible scheduling including input from other observatories where flexible scheduling takes place.

  7. ATUC is pleased that the Memorandum of Understanding with UNSW will mean that the Mopra Telescope will be more accessible and better supported for general community use. Some clarification of the support required from ATNF is desirable. At this stage ATUC considers preferable that ATUC continues to assign all non-UNSW dedicated time.

  8. ATUC requests further information before we can re-prioritise the upgrade to a wide-band 22-GHz receiver at Mopra. In particular, we request a statement of the scientific case and project priorities.

  9. ATUC suggests that the Synthesis Workshop be held every three years, that it be residential on site and that the costs to students be increased modestly. It is considered to be less important that the workshop be matched to the timing of the equivalent one offered at the VLA.

  10. ATUC would like to acknowledge that ATNF now supports multibeam software as part of the National Facility.

  11. a. ATUC supports that computer software be given a higher profile at Future Developments meetings. ATUC requests a plan for the ATOMS project beyond end 1999 so that it may comment on the priority for it.

  12. b. ATUC notes that documentation for multibeam software should be provided at the National Facility level following the assumption by the ATNF of responsibility for multibeam software. ATUC endorses the multibeam software priorities 1) support for the narrow band mode, 2) development of the point/shoot mode. It is recommended that a basic capability for both be provided by mid 1999.

  13. ATUC suggests that the future demand for the Bonn Polarimeter be assessed before resources are committed to incorporate it into the present upgraded system.

  14. ATUC supports the ongoing negotiations to put 7-mm receivers on all the ATCA antennae provided it is externally funded. It would be highly desirable to extend the frequency range to higher frequencies.

  15. ATUC is concerned about security for future web-based electronic submission.

  16. ATUC supports further investigation into proposal submission via the web. ATUC would like to see a set of requirements for the next ATUC meeting.

  17. ATUC is happy with the current level of international collaborations using the AT facilities.

  18. ATUC recommends that a Memorandum of Understanding be negotiated with SEST to follow the completion of the current one.

  19. ATUC supports that the ATNF should, as a matter of policy, adequately support AIPS, particularly for VLBI users. ATUC recognises that the computer resources for AIPS support have been reduced.

  20. ATUC requests a reduction in the cost of CDs and exabyte tapes to reflect market value.

  21. ATUC congratulates ATNF on its most recent Annual Report but notes that it has appeared very late.

  22. ATUC supports the proposal for UNSW to run a millimetre-workshop at Mopra towards the end of 1999.

  23. The next ATUC meeting will be held on 23 March 1999 in Marsfield.
Anne Green (Chair)