Report of 57th meeting of SAC

Victoria, B.C., May 6,7 2000

MegaCam Survey Working Group
Proposal Deadlines
CFHT Archive
Queue Scheduling / Service Observing
CFHT12K Archiving
Instrument Priorities and Plans
CFHT Replacement Studies
 International Partnerships

    The meeting was attended by SAC members Hutchings, Cuby, Bohlender, Wainscoat, Tonry, Beuzit, and Bastien. Soucail, Lilly, and Pierre were unable to attend, but submitted memos and/or were contacted by phone. CFHT were represented by Fahlman, Salmon, and Veillet. Several HIA astronomers attended the open sessions, and BOD chair Hesser was present at all agenda discussions.

    The agenda are listed below, and the report covers topics in the order of the agenda. Some presentation and background materials are included at the end of the report.

Agenda items

Saturday May 6

1. CFHT status and technical report (Salmon, Veillet)
          particularly status/schedule for CFHTIR, Megaprime, primary support

2. MegaCam survey working group report (Veillet, Wainscoat, Lilly)

3. Trends in CFHT proposals, engineering time (CTAC, CFGT, UH, CFHT)

4. CFHT proposal submission deadlines (CTAC, CFHT)

5. CFHT archive report (CADC)

6. Terapix report (if available)

7. Queue Scheduling and Service Observing (CFHT)

8. 12K data and calibration issues (CADC, CFHT)

9. IR working group; WIRCAM designs from UH, UM (Beuzit, CFHT)

10. Instrument priorities and plans (OSIS, FILAO, PUEO upgrade, actions from last meeting)

11. TAC/scheduling  meeting

Sunday May 7

12. CFHT replacement study contracts and associated activities (Fahlman)

13. KAO and Taiwan partnerships (Fahlman)

14. WIRCAM plans and funding (CFHT)

15. CFHT Celebration meeting program and speakers, next SAC meeting

1.  SAC reviewed the status of current instrument development and operational problems. Progress appears excellent on CFHTIR and MegaPrime, and no major problems or delays have occurred. SAC congratulates the CFHT on this. SAC has interest in obtaining early data from the sky using the EEV CCDs being used for MegaCam, in case fringing or other characteristics are relevant to survey science planning. CFHT stated that this may be done within the current year.

2.  MegaCam Survey Working Group

SAC discussed the progress report from the MegaCam Survey Working Group, which covers policies regarding survey data, program selection, filters required, and the total observing time needed. These are in direct response to the guidelines given in the SAC report of the 56th meeting, in October 1999. The SAC has the following comments.

SAC is pleased that the MSWG has made some progress, but notes that more work is desirable by the next SAC meeting. SAC and CFHT note that the group  reports through SAC in establishing the survey programs, and reporting their progress. However, the MSWG should prepare some reports for a public web site,  after SAC and CFHT approval. The present report is very much work in progress and is not suitable for general distribution. SAC, in consultation with CFHT,  has the following comments on points raised in the report.
Recommendation #1

a) While liaison with Terapix and CADC is desirable, it is not felt necessary  to enlarge the group.  Appointment of such individuals might be made as part of the membership replacement process. 

b) SAC notes that the idea of `competition' between new and the current survey  ideas was intended within the envelope of survey time, and that all  observations made during survey time are intended to have no proprietary time.  However, the following issues do need clarification or development:

   i)  How to implement the peer review or survey-TAC process 

   ii)  How to allow new survey ideas to emerge during the MegaCam era

   iii) How to involve new people in survey planning and definition over time

   iv) How to involve interested individuals outside the working group

c) A prioritized list of surveys is needed, with justified observing time  needs.  These should involve scheduling scenarios over the year and  consider the desirability of completing initial surveys in good time rather than running many at once. While SAC is ready to recommend larger amounts of survey time than the nominal 6 weeks per year, it does need to be clearly justified, balanced against regular proposals, and approved by the agencies.

d) The detailed roles of CFHT, Terapix, and CADC in moving the data down the pipeline need to be clarified.  The media and delivery of the data, and final disposition of pipeline data at CFHT, Terapix, and CADC should be addressed.  The ability to work remotely on data without full data transfer is a process that needs development.

e) The amount of overall survey time to be agreed upon needs more detailed discussion. It is also possible that survey time may be enlarged occasionally by proposals from individual TAC's (especially if overlapping) being given survey status with no proprietary time within the related community.

f) The early start of survey programs with the CFHT12K camera should be considered, before the commissioning of MegaCam.

3. SAC reviewed recent trends in proposals, which indicate that pressure on CFHT observing time is lower, presumably as a result of larger telescope facilities becoming available. The proposal pressure on the CFHT12K camera is higher than any other instrument. This is compatible with planning for the use of CFHT for imaging survey programs that are competitive against large telescopes, and serve the wider CFHT community. We will continue to monitor telescope and instrument use and demand during this time of change.

4. Proposal Deadlines
Recommendation #2

To accommodate the Canadian Time Assignment Committee's strong desire to hold a common Gemini and CFHT CTAC meeting, SAC proposes that the deadline for CFHT proposals be changed to 21 September and 21 March.

5. CFHT Archive

   SAC was given a tour of the CADC and given a detailed discussion by D. Schade, of the CFHT archive use and what is needed to improve its value.

   Some statistics concerning the CFHT archive are as follows:

Recommendation #3

SAC urges CFHT to ensure that CFHT12K data are written to secure optical media (e.g. DVD) either at the CFHT or by the CADC.  This is considered a high priority.

SAC recommends that CFHT respond to the CADC's request for ancillary data and header information in order to realize the full scientific potential  of the archive.

6. Although reminders were sent out, no Terapix report was received for the meeting. SAC continues to request a report before the next meeting.


7. Queue Scheduling and Service Observing

  The SAC heard presentations on the progress of queue scheduling and service observing for the CFHT12K camera.  The SAC continues to recognize the advantages this mode offers for CFHT12K observing and archiving, and maintains a strong endorsement of this project.  SAC is pleased that the CFHT Board has supported this initiative by allowing the hiring of the staff necessary to run the queue and carry out service observing.

  SAC also notes the progress with the Elixir software and commends CFHT for the value this will add to all CFHT12K observing and archived data, as well as being an essential ingredient to the implementation of a queue.

 However, although SAC wants to see this implemented as soon as possible, SAC also is concerned that CFHT not compromise the science carried out with CFHT12K because the queue and service mode of observing is incomplete and untested.
Recommendation #4

   SAC therefore recommends

   - that CFHT should have the Phase-II tools and observing scripts available for testing in July and August 2000, and that these modes be used by the scheduled CFHT12K observers as much as possible.

   - that CFHT should have the necessary QSO software written and tested by the 2001A call for proposals.

SAC has the following other recommendations regarding queue/service observing which are of lower urgency, but are pertinent to eventual Megaprime observing.

   - SAC suggests that snapshot proposals be solicited, particularly those which can take advantage of less than optimal conditions, but be limited if they prove to be overly burdensome for the various TAC's.  (A snapshot proposal is envisioned primarily as one that can fill in otherwise unused time during QSO by a) having a list of targets distributed around the sky, and b) being able to make good use of less than optimum weather or seeing conditions.)

   - SAC notes that the VLT queue has put a lower limit on proposal size  of 0.5 nights in order to keep the queue and TAC burden manageable.

   - SAC notes that the balancing of time between agencies may prove to be an important issue for queue observing, and suggests that CFHT be sure to provide the functionality in the queue scheduling to ensure equitable balancing.

   - It will be important for PI's of queued programs to be able to get instantaneous information on whether their programs have been executed and the conditions under which they took place.  It is also desirable that PI's be able to get early quality checks on data should they desire. This may take the form of quick look at a subset of raw data and the entire, processed data set may wait for the completion of the program, but it is important that this functionality be provided by the queue/service operation.

   - SAC reaffirms the value provided by the data archiving by the CADC.  SAC recommends that CADC be kept informed of the format of data and data headers being written by the observing scripts.  CADC should also be provided with current `detrend' pipeline processing software so that they can provide pipeline-processed data from its raw, archived data.

   - Unlike astrometric calibrations, photometric calibration implies a loss of telescope time which could be used for other purposes.  In addition, the cost in calibration time to achieve 0.01 mag accuracy instead of 0.05 mag accuracy is considerable.  SAC therefore suggests that photometric calibrations be carried out only when necessary for the primary scientific program, and not as a routine service to enhance the value of the archived data.  In particular, CFH should not undertake photometric re-observations of fields with CFHT12K or Megaprime where the science objective has already been met.  If there is a demand for photometric calibration of archive or survey data, CFH should consider whether a collaborative agreement to use a smaller telescope for photometric calibrations could be established.

8. CFHT12K archiving
Recommendation #5

SAC notes that once it is the default that CFHT12K observing is done as queue-scheduled service observing, it will be easy to ensure uniformity of calibration and header data. Archiving concerns should be dealt with between CADC and CFHT, with attention to the SAC points made in the previous section. 

9. The report of the IR working group and the WIRCAM issues are merged under section 14 below.

10. Instrument Priorities and Plans
Recommendation #6

  The SAC reaffirms the instrument priorities it identified in Recommendation #6 of its May 1999 report.  Specifically, CFHTIR and Megaprime have the highest priority.  The high level of manpower that presently must be devoted to these major efforts means that the lower priority projects ESPADONS, GRIF, and FILAO can only get help from CFHT when it is available, and must in general wait for the completion of CFHTIR and Megaprime.

  If funding for WIRCAM can be secured, SAC places its rapid development at high priority, similar to the priority given to Megaprime.  The SAC places WIRCAM at higher priority than ESPADONS, GRIF and FILAO.

    For FILAO, the SAC requests a proposed schedule for development and deployment at the telescope, details of what support will be needed from CFHT, and details of the interface to CFHT.  SAC will then make a priority ranking between GRIF and FILAO.

  The SAC noted that the introduction of new instruments is producing an ever increasing complement of instruments. SAC discussed the problems in supporting a suite of instruments which are not all used frequently, and the impact of the heavy instrument development load on CFHT staff. Decommissioning of some lesser used instruments will be necessary to keep the support load manageable, and to ensure reliable operation of the commonly used instruments.  Of particular note is the impending decommissioning of FTS and f/35.  More difficult decommissioning decisions must be made soon in the future.

  The SAC considered the proposal to upgrade PUEO.  The SAC recognized that such an upgrade would significantly enhance the scientific value of PUEO,
and open up a new scientific niche for CFHT in the optical. SAC took note of several letters of support for this initiative from observers.

   At this point, there is no identified funding for this upgrade, which is likely to be expensive. In any event, in terms of both funding and staff effort, SAC very definitely does not want an upgrade to PUEO to compete with or interfere with WIRCAM, which the SAC believes has the highest scientific priority and urgency for new instrumentation. The WIRCAM is discussed separately below.

12. CFHT Replacement Studies

   During the past few months, SAC called for and reviewed proposals for concept studies for replacement of the CFHT by a larger telescope. SAC made recommendations to the CFHT as to which proposals to support and how to allocate available funding among them. Consequently, CFHT is setting  up contracts with the following groups to pursue these studies, with funding of about $20000 each. The concept studies will be performed over the next few months and presented at the CFHT celebratory meeting at the end of November this year.

1. Burgarella et al (Observatiore Marseille) `A versatile wide angle survey telescope for the next generation CFHT'

2. Kuhn et al (University of Hawaii) `The large high dynamic range CFH Telescope'

3. Carlberg et al (Canadian consortium) `The large high dynamic range CFH Telescope'

   The Kuhn and Carlberg studies are collaborative on a similar concept.  SAC made the following comments in their recommendation to CFHT: This program
can do little more than seed serious studies, and flush out general ideas for discussion. It has, however, given a clear signal that CFHT replacement is a real issue. Thus, leverage of future efforts is important and urgent. We feel it is important to make realistic cost and time estimates rather than detailed designs, for instrumentation as well as telescope. It is also important to be aware of other related projects and possible collaborators. In establishing your contracts, we feel it is important not to duplicate studies on non critical items, particularly between the UH and Canadian sides of the joint proposal.
Recommendation #7

The SAC is very pleased with the steps taken by CFH to investigate possibilities for a next generation CFHT.  It seems clear that the advent of 8 and 10-m telescopes will make CFHT uncompetitive within this decade. On time scales shorter than this it will be difficult to retain excellent staff.  In order to continue to take advantage of the excellent qualities of the site, and continue to carry on a leadership role in world class astronomical research, it is time to begin serious studies for a telescope which improves on the capabilities of present 8-m class facilities.

The studies commissioned by CFHT for the Fall 2000 Celebration meeting already show a great deal of promise.  SAC is encouraged by the quality and vision already shown by the study proposals received, despite the very modest level of funding provided by CFH.  In particular, the synergy which seems to be developing between the Hawaiian and Canadian groups bodes well for an eventual project which all three communities can agree upon and contribute to.  We encourage CFH and the various participants in the concept studies to communicate extensively with each other, because developing a synergy is just as important as developing a particular telescope design.

In the very near future, CFH must be prepared to participate in funding  a very much more complete telescope proposal.  The cost of a telescope which has capabilities beyond that of present 8-m telescopes will surely be of order $100M, and it will be impossible to seek funding for such a project without a thorough engineering and cost study.  The time scale for an ambitious telescope project from design to first light is 5-10 years, so CFH needs to begin design and fund raising activities within the next year or two if it is to continue to provide to its communities a world class astronomical facility.

13. International Partnerships

     SAC was informed of the agreement to involve the Korean Astrophysical Observatory in a partnership with CFHT, which will enable funding towards the proposed WIRCAM. The draft MOU was reviewed with the Executive Director and SAC notes that the terms are consistent with the previous SAC recommendation (#1 of May 1999) on such agreements. We understand that the Executive Director will provide a summary of the agreement on the CFHT WEB site once final Board approval to proceed has been secured.
Recommendation #8

 The partnership with Korea, which CFHT has started through the recent Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU), is a very good example of the kind of partnership SAC would like to see encouraged. Korea will be able to join the present CFHT communities and participate in the use and development of the facilities, in exchange for a significant financial contribution toward the building of WIRCAM, a Wide Field InfraRed CAMera. All the astronomers in Korea, at the Korean Astronomical Observatory and in the universities, should greatly benefit from the partnership. The current CFHT communities will gain by having access to a new instrument. SAC recognizes that this represents a very positive step towards the funding of WIRCAM, and that the funds raised within the terms of this agreement be exclusively reserved for WIRCAM.

  SAC urges CFHT to continue its efforts to secure full funding for WIRCAM by pursuing additional partnerships.

  SAC recommends that the CFHT Executive Director be authorized to sign the proposed MOU between KAO and the CFHT. 

See the addendum for more information on the KAO-CFHT MOU

14 (and 9). WIRCAM and IR Working Group

  SAC was given the draft of the CFHT Wide field IR Working Group report, the final report of the preliminary WIRCAM design contracted to Klaus Hodapp, and had access before the meeting to the preliminary design of a mosaic IR camera and multi-object spectrograph for CFHT submitted by Universite de Montreal.
Recommendation #9

  SAC re-expresses the very high scientific merit of a wide field IR instrument for the CFHT communities but emphasizes the urgency of its implementation given the international competition on comparable projects.

  SAC recommends that this project should be developed on a 3 years fast track, starting early in 2001. This implies that priority should be given to simple and affordable designs, and that full funding should be secured on the same time frame. 

  This means that spectroscopic capability is unlikely to be affordable, and is at present not strongly recommended by the working group report. The  final working group report should be made available as soon as possible, with clear top level specifications. SAC encourages CFHT to pursue design studies during the next few months, based on the science specifications, as well as moment and weight constraints.

15. SAC reviewed and discussed the plans for the CFHT celebratory meeting, and agreed to participate as requested in suggestions and planning for the program. The next SAC meeting will be held at CFHT immediately before the CFHT21 celebratory meeting, November 29 and 30.

Addendum to the SAC report of May 2000
KAO-CFHT Memorandum Of Understanding
Greg Fahlman - 13 June 2000

 I am pleased to report that the Board of Directors has authorized the executive Director to enter into an agreement with the Korea Astronomy Observatory (KAO) that is intended to provide some of the means to proceed with WIRCAM in a timely fashion. 

SAC has been kept fully informed throughout this process and has provided guidelines for the terms of the agreement.

An outline of the MOU is as follows:

1. Period covered by this agreement:

   The agreement covers a five year period, structured as an initial term of two years (beginning July 1, 2000) and renewable for a further 3 years subject to a satisfactory review by KAO of the results from the initial period, and to an assessment by CFHT of the progress toward realizing the WIRCAM development. 

   It is agreed that in the event full funding for WIRCAM is unavailable, CFHT and KAO will seek to identify other opportunities for collaboration in order to continue the agreement beyond the initial term.

2. Time Allocation to KAO:

   For the first two years of the agreement, the CFHT Member Agencies shall provide KAO with a total of 27 nights for the exclusive use of KAO sponsored astronomers distributed over semesters 2000B, 2001A, 2001B, 2002A.

   The time will be distributed equally over bright and dark time.

   Joint proposals submitted to the KAO and at least one other Member Agency are welcomed. The time will be allocated between the participating agencies (now including KAO) following current practice.    
   All CFHT facility instruments will be available to KAO sponsored programs.

3. CFHT Benefit:

   KAO will provide CFHT with an annual remittance for the use of the CFHT facilities, instruments and infrastructure required for the pursuit of KAO's aim of developing a strong national program in optical and infrared astronomy. 
   Note: CFHT intends to apply these remittances to the development costs of WIRCAM. 

4. WIRCAM development:

   In the event that WIRCAM does proceed, the CFHT shall endeavor to provide KAO sponsored technical and scientific staff an opportunity to participate in the work of the project, This may include placement of KAO sponsored technical staff at CFHT and/or affiliated laboratories in the partner communities. 

5. Participation in CFHT affairs:
   KAO may provide a visiting astronomer to CFHT, who would be assigned duties and responsibilities consistent with existing CFHT policies. 

   KAO may nominate an individual to attend SAC meetings as a non-voting observer, with the permission of the SAC president. KAO may also nominate an individual to attend the CFHT TAC meetings  to assist scheduling of KAO programs

   Similarly, KAO may nominate an individual to attend the CFHT Board meetings as an observer, with the permission of the Board Chair.