Report of 59th meeting of SAC
Lyon, France, June 2-3, 2001
The meeting was attended by SAC members Pierre Bastien, Jean-Luc Beuzit, David Bohlender (vice-chair), Laurent Drissen, Eric Emsellem, Eduardo Martin, Marguerite Pierre, Chris Pritchet, Genevieve Soucail (chair) and John Tonry.
KAO (Korea) representative H.I. Kim and ASIAA (Taiwan) representative S.Y. Wang were present as observers. G. Fahlman (Executive Director), C. Veillet (Senior Resident Astronomer), D. Salmon (Director of Engeneering) and other CFHT staff also attended and participated in the presentations and discussions. J. Hesser (Chair of BoD) and S. Lilly (Director General, HIA) attended much of the first day of the meeting.
1. Technical activities report (Salmon)
CFHTIR [performance report]
Espadons [project status]
2. NOP status report (includes QSO, NEO, ELIXIR, DADS) (CFHT) and telescope scheduling (Veillet)
3. Trends in time application (CFGT, CTAC, UH)
4. Archive report (Bohlender)
5. Megaprime project update (Veillet)
6. OASIS and CFH12k disposition (Fahlman)
7. Megaprime survey: report of the working group, definition of the CFH Legacy Survey, organisation of the survey , proprietary time(s) and dataset/catalogue distribution, peer review of the survey, ... (Veillet)
8. WIRCam: funding, schedule, design (CFHT). Report of the Steering group (Beuzit).
9. (a) OHANA / (b) AOB upgrade
10. CFHT replacement studies: study of the reports, next actions (Fahlman)
CFHT technical reports, memos and reports
were circulated before and at the meeting. Most of the documents
were made available on a secured Web site at CFHT.
SAC reviewed the detailed technical reports
describing the different projects going on at CFHT. SAC was impressed
by the quantity and quality of the tasks carried out by the CFHT staff,
and thus wishes to congratulate CFHT for its outstanding progress.
Some recommendations were made by SAC regarding specific issues:
SAC strongly encourages the CFHT staff to carry on with the detailed evaluation of the seeing conditions observed at CFHT, their relationship to the site-dome-instrument environment, examine possible ways to improve these conditions, and to define a route of action.
SAC was informed of the on-going activities for the FILAO instrument. However, it was noted that 3 near-IR spectrographs are already available, or soon will be. These include OSIS/IR, GRiF and FILAO. Although each of them has its own capabilities, SAC is concerned about the level of scientific interest these 3 modes will hold for the communities. As an example, SAC notes that during semester 2001B OSIS/IR was available to the community but not a single proposal was submitted! SAC therefore asks CFHT to perform an evaluation of the implications and cost of operating FILAO. A clear evaluation of the science goals of FILAO via a scientific outline provided by the builders will be conducted by SAC. SAC's evaluation will be sent to the TACs for additional comments. This will help SAC obtain a clearer view on the operational conditions for these instruments, as well as their potential uses for the CFH communities.
SAC encourages CFHT to continue to examine possible solutions of the ''2 persons rule'' concern at the summit during QSO.
The SAC extends congratulation
to all of the CFHT staff involved in the NOP project. Remarkable
progress has been seen in QSO, NEO, ELIXIR, and DADS since the last SAC
meeting. SAC recognises that this was only possible because of the
very hard work and dedication of many CFHT staff members.
The success of CFHT staff in discovering
low-level light scattering from the back of the mirror covers was viewed
as a solid demonstration of the robustness of the ELIXIR data reduction
pipeline. SAC and the member communities will look forward to the
official release of the first data products from this package. When
this, and subsequent data releases take place the SAC also strongly urges
CFHT to make all of these data products and the relevant ELIXIR database
to the CADC so that calibrated data may be made readily available to all CFHT archive users.
Again, SAC reiterates that we are extremely pleased with the great progress made in the entire NOP project. We will look forward to another status report at the next SAC meeting in November 2001.
SAC reviewed the proposal pressure and time allocations for the 2001B semester, as reported by the national TACs and the scheduling plans by the TAC. CFHT12K is currently the most widely requested and used instrument on the telescope. SAC notes that there is high demand for the following instruments, in roughly decreasing order: AOB, OASIS, MOS, Gecko/CAFE, and the newly commissioned CFHTIR. SAC also noted that the pressure on bright nights exceeded that on dark nights.
No proposals were submitted for the new OSIS-IR observing mode.
SAC received a detailed report from CADC
and is pleased with the on-going activities at CADC. Prior to the
Lyon meeeting, SAC e-mail discussions about the proprietary period for
QSO data has led to the following recommendation:
SAC notes that MegaPrime and the CFHLS
present a major challenge to the three major partners involved in data
handling and processing: CFHT, TERAPIX, and CADC. There is much work
that needs to be done in the next 12 months including tasks ranging from
definitions of data exchange mechanisms to technical details of database
and processing systems. This is an urgent priority and the CFHT,
TERAPIX, and CADC must begin active discussions and collaborative development
immediately if a data distribution and processing system is to be ready in time for the first MegaPrime science runs, currently anticipated in 2002 August.
SAC expresses its concern about the delay in the construction of the Megaprime autoguider unit by HIA and recognises that this situation arose because of a lack of manpower available for the project. Compared to the schedule presented at the last SAC meeting (December 2000), the current delay amounts to about 4 months. Reducing the initially scheduled period of acceptance tests would then result in Megaprime being ready by April 2002. SAC views this as a critical deadline to meet if Megaprime is to be available for scientific use for semester 2002B, as is currently planned. SAC stresses the urgency to keep the schedule in order for the project to remain scientificly competitive. Any additional delays should be communicated to SAC immediately.
SAC discussed the status of the OASIS move
to the WHT, tentatively planned for the end of the 2002A semester.
In this context, and given SAC's recommendation to shift semester boundaries
(see section 2 above), SAC makes the following recommendation on OASIS:
WHT / CFHT exchange time
SAC received the proposal which suggested
a means for providing the CFHT community with access to OASIS after it
is moved to the WHT in exchange for time on Megacam. However SAC
clearly states that the approval of such a time-sharing proposal is strictly
conditional on the interest from the C, F and H communities to have access
to OASIS at the WHT. This should be evaluated before SAC can formally
support such a proposal. SAC thus makes the following recommendation:
SAC was informed by the Executive Director of a possible opportunity to move the CFH12k camera to another facility. The estimated investment in the camera is estimated to exceed $1M. SAC encourages CFHT to evaluate the present market value of the CFH12k camera, recognising that the CCD chips are still quite efficient ones on the present market, and that the filters and the mechanics are also valuable. Moreover, SAC requests that the departure of the CFH12k camera from CFHT should wait until at least one year after the start of Megacam operations.
SAC thanks the MSWG for the preparation of their draft report for a Canada France Hawaii Legacy Survey. Based on discussions at the French and Canadian national astronomy meetings and at the 2001 CFHT Users' Meeting there is clearly strong interest for such a MegaPrime survey from the French and Canadian communities, and the SAC agrees that such a survey should be carried out at some level.
The University of Hawaii has indicated that they are very unlikely to participate in the CFHLS at the 110 night/year level currently proposed and would prefer an allocation of survey nights much closer to the 42 night/year level currently guaranteed to survey programs. The UH SAC representatives reiterated the fact that the UH's current demand for CFHT time remains at a level equal to UH demand for the Keck Telescopes. This is primarily because of their interest in wide-field optical imaging needed for support of their 8-m telescope programs. As a result UH is very hesitant to give up a large fraction of the dark and gray nights available for UH PI programs with the CFH12K camera. This is despite of the fact that participation in a CFHLS would give them immediate access to many more nights of MegaPrime data than they currently have proprietary access to.
Because of these issues, at this time SAC
is not able to recommend a precise number of nights that should be assigned
to the CFHLS. Instead, SAC now requests that the MSWG prepare a detailed
CFHLS Observing Proposal which will eventually be submitted to the SAC,
TACs, and external referees for review. After the TACs and external recommendations
are received and reviewed, SAC will then be able to provide a final recommendation
for the number of nights to assign to the Canada France (Hawaii) Legacy
SAC recommends that the CFHLS Observing Proposal should address the following points:
proposal will consist of suggestions for external referees. In all cases, the final recommendations of TACs and SAC will be based on the scientific merits of the proposed CFHLS science balanced against the value of traditional PI proposals.
SAC received several
documents regarding the status of the WIRCAM project, including the final
reports of the two study contracts submitted by R. Doyon et al. (U. de
Montreal) and K. Hodapp (IFA, UH) for the conceptual design of the instrument.
In particular, Doyon et al. propose a modular design, allowing a continuous
field (no gaps between detectors) with a possible increase of the total
field of view by 50%, moving from 2x2 to 2x3 detectors. Several options
presented by Hodapp related to new array developments at Rockwell: use of the new MBE material for the Hawaii-2 FPA that will result in higher QE and reduced residual images, buttable arrays still under development for the NGST project.
SAC wants to congratulate CFHT for reaching
the level of progress presented at the Users Meeting and during the SAC
meeting. Several options are still open and subject to debate, and should
be addressed very soon by the WIRCAM Steering Group. SAC endorses
the project management plan presented by CFHT. SAC is still concerned
with the time-scale of the project, to be compared with other on-going
projects of wide field IR imagers. It appears that the two most competitive
projects are NIRMOS on the VLT (should start operations by the end of 2002
but NIRMOS will be sensitive only in J and H) and WFCAM on UKIRT
(WIRCAM is foreseen to be ready in 2003, with a possible shift to 2004).
SAC also recognises that once the final
design is fixed, the manufacturing of WIRCAM can be rapid, provided that
a good complementarity is maintained between the groups involved in the
SAC urges the Steering group now in place to comment on the optical and chip options, but also reminds the group that the most important issue on WIRCAM is the tight schedule. SAC therefore recommends that the project be started as soon as possible in order to have the camera on the telescope no later than semester 2004A. As a first step, CFHT should try to position itself in the IR detector manufacturer's "queue" as soon as possible.
SAC reaffirms its support of the OHANA project and therefore encourages CFHT to continue to lead the project and discussions with other telescopes on Mauna Kea in this matter. SAC is, however, concerned about the lack of funding for this project.
SAC is very supportive of the efforts led by O. Lai and F. Menard to study the technical and logistical considerations for upgrading PUEO, which has been, and still remains, one of the best AO systems available on the planet. There is still a strong demand from users for PUEO, which will be an essential component of the Ohana project. An upgrade of PUEO would therefore be a strong asset for CFHT and its users, and SAC encourages CFHT to pursue its efforts in this area.
SAC recommends that the PUEO group upgrades its report by the next SAC meeting, with an emphasis on the following considerations:
10. CFHT replacement studies
The final concept studies for a Next Generation CFHT were sent to SAC before the meeting, and a general discussion of the 3 concepts was presented by Greg Fahlman at the User's Meeting. SAC is very impressed with these design studies, particularly since they offer so many innovations over the other designs pursued by other groups in the world: GSMT, CELT, OWL... SAC wants to congratulate the three groups for their excellent work and innovative ideas.
There was lively and extensive discussions during the SAC meeting about what an NGCFHT should be and how to converge on a design. Several points emerged:
SAC suggests that the board find extra funds to permit CFHT to carry on a series of NGCFHT workshops which can be used to bring in telescope engineering experts and the participants from the concept studies to hammer out a workable design that all can agree on. These workshops can also bring in scientists from the communities and elsewhere to refine the science cases which are already detailed in the Burgarella and Carlberg design studies. Finally, workshops can begin to make the idea of an NGCFHT credible to the world, an essential step for an eventual effort to find funding for an NGCFHT.
The next SAC meeting is scheduled for November 16-17, 2001 in Waimea.