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APO 3.5-m Users Committee Telecon, 5/07/19
Attending: Nancy Chanover (NMSU), Mark Klaene (APO), Bill Ketzeback (APO), Moire Prescott (NMSU), Mary Beth Kaiser (JHU), Chip Kobulnicky (UWy), Misty Bentz (GSU), Joanne Hughes (Seattle U), Ben Williams (UW), Eric Bellm (UW), Anne Verbiscer (UVa), Kal Kadlec (UW), John Wisniewski (OU), Derek Buzasi (FGCU), Russet McMillan (APO), John Bally (CU)
Nancy started by welcoming a new leasing partner, Florida Gulf Coast University, to the group. FGCU will be leasing time in 2019 (starting in Q3), 2020, and 2021. The Users Committee rep from FGCU is Dr. Derek Buzasi - welcome, Derek!
User feedback and comments from institutional representatives:
- FGCU - glad to be here
- Washington - nothing to report
- NMSU - nothing to report
- JHU - nothing to report
- Colorado - nothing to report
- UVa - no users' concerns to report, but Anne expressed her appreciation and thanks for the hard work that went into making possible some short-notice observations of a Centaur occultation on May 1. The 3.5m/Agile was used to collect some very nice data, even though the occultation itself ultimately was not seen from APO.
- Seattle - nothing to report
- Georgia State - nothing to report
- Oklahoma - no users' concerns but John expressed his kudos to the site staff for making a recent OU class trip such a success
- NAPG - no report
- Wyoming - nothing to report
Telescope and Instruments Report:
Mark's detailed report is included below, followed by additional information discussed during today's call.
3.5-m Telescope and Instruments Highlights, 3/28/2019 - 5/01/2019
A major effort is about 70% complete to upgrade the power line distribution to the observatory. This should substantially improve utility power reliability. Small and short late winter storms have passed through area recently but overall the weather has been good. Hosted a NAIC visiting instrument run, a VIP group from UWisc, and a class from OU. Bill and I attended the Observatory Site Manager’s conference in Tucson along with a mirror coating and cleaning conference.
The telescope had one minor problem when the altitude axis frozen up. Candace corrected the problem quickly.
DIS: The DIS blue camera required vacuum service to improve scattered light. This was completed and Russet can update scattered light performance on both cameras at the teleconference.
TripleSpec is operational.
Agile is operational with very little usage.
Echelle is operational. The new Ecam is still not quite ready for prime time. The communication issue we thought was resolved is still questionable.
NIC-FPS is operational. ARCTIC is operational.
Operational with the new guide camera system. We await direction on the future of ARCSAT from the Strategic Planning meeting in June.
Additional telescope and instrument discussion:
The weather is improving and we've had a busy spring hosting several class trips and other groups. Things have gone well with minimal problems. We continue to spend a fair amount of time on DIS. DIS Blue was serviced and came back to science operation looking great, and then the scattered light increased again so we will service it again on May 10-21. We have an idea of what’s going on but it's not clear why it changes so drastically from one servicing to another. DIS Red is doing fine. We are preparing for the KOSMOS commissioning run. Bill and others made progress on the new echelle slit viewer camera and we will try it out during the next engineering run. ARCSAT is operating nominally. We are preparing for the upcoming PAO visiting instrument run later in May.
Q2 3.5m scheduling:
We have a reasonable amount of OPEN time remaining in Q2 but it is almost all bright. There is the possibility of some dark time opening up later in Q2 if the KOSMOS commissioning date slips. Users who can make use of bright time are encouraged to ask for it!
Q2 ARCSAT scheduling:
There is lots of OPEN time in Q2 ARCSAT schedule and we encourage requests for that time.
Q3 3.5m scheduling:
Ben recently sent out the Q3 allocations to the institutional schedulers. There have been some requests for us to set up page with KOSMOS information for people who are interested in learning more about it and/or applying for time to use it in Q3. Ben is assembling that information and will send out the link later this week.
NA2 Baffle Project:
Nancy provided an update on this project on behalf of John Wilson. We issued an RFP for an optical engineering firm to conduct the stray light analysis for John's new design of the NA2 baffle. We received two proposals and selected which firm we want to do the work. We are in the process of letting that contract now. As a reminder, this project is independent of the summer shutdown schedule. Nancy will get an updated project timeline from John for the next telecon.
Kal reported on behalf of the UW team that most of the electronics is complete, and work is underway on the wiring and cabling. Conor is working on the control software. Some other elements are slightly delayed. John Wisniewski asked whether users who want to use KOSMOS in Q3 should take any other precautions aside from stating a backup instrument? The response was that if the science scheduling is flexible users should probably request for their KOSMOS observations to be scheduled for later in the quarter. If the science requires July time they should request it, but they should definitely be prepared to use a backup instrument in case KOSMOS is not ready.
Response to Call for White Papers for 2020 Decadal Survey
Nancy submitted the Notice of Intent for a white paper in response to the call for Activities, Projects, or State of the Profession Considerations (APC) white papers. The National Academies web site still indicates a tentative due date for these white papers of July 1 but it has not been updated recently. Nancy will proceed under the assumption that the deadline will be July 1 but this is not currently at the top of her to-do list.
Discussion of 25th Anniversary / Strategic Planning meeting in 2019
Nancy reminded the Users Committee of some key information concerning the upcoming Strategic Planning Meeting in June:
- Dates: June 11-12, 2019
- Location: Sunspot Astronomy and Visitors Center
- Lodging: Rooms will be blocked off at The Lodge in Cloudcroft
- Attendance: is strongly requested/encouraged from all stakeholders (at least one from each institution!)
Some institutions have already identified their representative(s), while others are still actively discussing this. Remote participation may be an option; Nancy is looking into it. In any case, in-person participation is preferable. All attendees should register before the June 1 deadline - there is a registration form on the meeting web site:https://sites.google.com/view/35mstrategicplanning/home. Nancy will distribute several discussion topics that she would like all departments to discuss prior to the meeting so that the meeting attendees can speak about them on behalf of their institutions. She will distribute this information before the end of this week.
Open action items from previous meetings:
- Misty Bentz and John Bally will upload their NICFPS data reduction scripts to the wiki. STATUS: CLOSED. It is on the NICFPS wiki page.
- Ben Williams will ask Anjum whether she had any Agile data reduction documentation she could upload to the wiki. Ben got Anjum's new email address and contacted her about this. Although she has been pretty inactive lately, she said that she is interested in supplying something but she hasn’t sent anything yet. Ben will send her a reminder. STATUS: OPEN. Both Ben and Nancy are awaiting responses from other people. If nothing new develops prior to the next call Nancy will remove this from the Action Item list and will discuss alternate ways of getting some Agile data reduction info put onto the wiki.
- Nancy will disseminate the TEWG final report. STATUS: CLOSED. It is on the TEWG wiki page.
- Nancy will distribute redacted slides from her ARC BoG presentation. STATUS: CLOSED. It is on the ARC Board of Governors wiki page.
- Nancy will disseminate information concerning the date/location of the Strategic Planning meeting in June 2019. STATUS: CLOSED.
- Bill will update the ARCSAT User's Manual to include instructions for guiding. STATUS: CLOSED.
- All UC reps should work with their department members to identify who will attend the Strategic Planning Meeting in June. STATUS: OPEN. Not all institutions have identified their representative yet.
New action items from this meeting:
- Nancy will get an updated timeline on the NA2 baffle project from John Wilson.
- Ben will send out a link to KOSMOS info for interested prospective users.
- Nancy will disseminate strategic planning discussion questions for the departments by Friday May 10.
All Other Business:
As a reminder, the summer shutdown starts on July 15 and we will be returning to science on or about July 25.
The next Users Committee telecon will be on Monday June 3, 2019, at 10:00 am MDT. That is our last scheduled call so we will discuss our call schedule for the second half of 2019 next time.