ATUC Meeting

ATNF Director's Response

ATNF Director's Response to the 23/24 September 1999, ATUC Report to the Director.

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

(a) [Point 2] ATUC is concerned that the lower limit of 70% for the time available for astronomy on the ATCA and Parkes telescopes not be reached.

For 1999 71% of time was used for astronomy on the ATCA and 78% on Parkes. ATCA was affected by the development work needed for the N/S spur and the new stations.

(b) [Point 4] ATUC applauds Narrabri's initiative for real-time data processing. The following points were noted:

  • a comprehensive log of the processing should be available;
  • on-line reduction will encourage use by optical astronomers;
  • advantages will be earlier publication of results and on-the-fly modification of observing strategies;
  • access of images for remote observers would be helpful;
  • a quality check should be provided for the reduced data;
  • more user feedback is required before additional resources are committed;
  • the production of an archive of calibrated fluxes for ATCA calibrators is a good suggestion. Does the early release of this data need TAC approval?

Work in this area now concentrates on defining requirements (these ATUC inputs will be included) and designing a system based on AIPS++. The major effort during 1999 was to gather user input by providing a prototype real time system.

(c) [Point 7] ATUC requests a progress report on the spectral ripple investigations at Parkes.

No progress.

(d) [Point 10] ATUC is satisfied with 40% of the telescope time allocated for overseas users.


(e) [Point 11] We urge that the proposed AIPS++ workshops be organised soon to accommodate university users as well as ATNF/AAO staff.

The first workshop is planned for April 2000.

(f) [Point 13] ATUC is encouraged by the initiative to improve the AT list of calibrators.


New Business Matters:

  1. a) ATUC congratulates the ATNF on the successful outcomes of the Triennium funding.


    b) ATUC believes the ATNF has a responsibility for an increased outreach program. Outreach should include media coverage and public awareness as well as the educational aspects. We would like the AT Student Committee to organize a workshop to cover:

    • the effectiveness of current programs
    • better definition of outreach goals
    • improved media contact by researchers
    • the possibility of the appointment of a Creative Arts Fellowship to improve the public interface with the ATNF.

    The AT Student Committee was set up only to review ATNF' support of its co-supervised student program. However, ATNF plans to increase its outreach activities and is currently discussing how this will be done, and ATUC suggestions will be taken into consideration.

  2. a) ATUC considers that scientific involvement in the AMIBA project would be desirable, but it should not have a significant impact on ATNF resources. We encourage the Director to seek an innovative solution.

    We believe we can become involved in a way which has sufficient benefits for the ATNF to over-ride the impact on our resources. We will provide an update at the next meeting.

    b) ATUC is disturbed about the possible impact of the "access restricted to contributors" policy (a version of "user pays". We suggest that a model using reciprocal access be investigated. The HST model of funding successful US observers is worth noting.

    Further discussions with NRAO and with a representative for the US International Science Policy have somewhat alleviated our concerns.

  3. ATUC recommends signing of the MOU with SEST, which will include operational support along present lines. A review of the project within 12 months would be desirable, because considerable resources have been spent to date.

    At this stage it has been assumed that ATNF and Sweden will extend the Agreement (and Australian proposals in the next period are already scheduled). It appears that Australia will need only to provide SEST observing support.

  4. The proposed receiver changes to Ceduna have been reviewed by the User community, and they are considered to have minimal scientific impact on VLBI research at this time.


  5. To avoid delays in setting the observing schedules, observers are strongly encouraged to provide more detailed information on time limitations on the proposal forms. ATUC recommends that observing schedules are posted on the Web at least 1 month before the start of the following term.
    In addition, it would be helpful if VLBI observers were better informed of the details of the session schedule.

    This has been made a target for the telescope schedulers. (Wherever possible, observing schedules will be posted on web at least 1 months in advance).

  6. ATUC notes that there are no direct budget implications for the proposed Child Care Centre. We are happy to see it go ahead.


  7. ATUC would like to encourage the involvement of the university community in the SKA project.

    This will be discussed further in the Steering Committee. If we succeed in getting the R&D funding recommended by PMSEIC this would be partly directed to university based research.

  8. ATUC supports the initiative of the Parkes OIC to quarantine the live operational system and to allow modifications only after sufficient testing. Provision of adequate commissioning time after any modifications would be helpful.

    The quarantining of live software systems at Parkes is working well and will remain in place. Provision of adequate commissioning or testing time ahead of any observations requiring new or substantially modified systems is now routine scheduling practice, whenever sufficient lead time is given. Substantial modifications to working systems will be undertaken only if adequate commissioning/testing time is scheduled or can be rescheduled, unless exceptional circumstances apply (such as a serious failure of an existing system).

  9. ATUC suggests that NAPAs be listed separately on the observing schedule web page. ATUC endorses that ToO and NAPA results be made publicly available promptly, and that links to these results be added to the web pages.

    NAPA projects are now listed and identified in the schedule summaries.
    ToO and NAPA observations can be found using the archive facilities.
    Links to NAPA results have been added to the ATNF web pages.

  10. ATUC requests a detailed report on the status of the 22 GHz calibrator source observations, including any polarization characteristics that have been measured.

    In summary, the first detection pass of observing of potential candidates is 90% complete and reduction of these observations is 60% complete (and should be 100% complete by the ATUC meeting). After that, we have to cull the candidate list and then do some longer observations of the candidates when we have a full set of receivers.