Report of the 81st meeting

of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope

Scientific Advisory Council

Kingston, Canada 14-15 May 2012


NOTE: The report presented below is the public version of the SAC report as amended by the CFHT Board of Directors.

After deliberation, the CFHT Board of Directors has endorsed SAC’s recommendations No. 2, Award of additional time to the NGVS LP; Delay of MATLAS LP observations; No. 3 SPIRou-Gemini fiber feed link.

In addition, the CFHT Board of Directors has taken note of SAC’s recommendation to the CFHT Executive Director to accept the four new Large Programs (Item 2 of the report); and, recommends preparations for the 2013 CFHT Users Meeting be addressed by the SAC, in concert with the Executive Director, with a presentation of a detailed outline program at the December 2012 CFHT Board of Directors.

The remaining recommendations will be further discussed at the Board's next regular meeting, December 2012.

Recommendation 1 Dome shutter failure
Information Item 2013-2016 Large Programs
Recommendation 2 NGVS LP – MATLAS observations
Recommendation 3 SPIRou-Gemini fiber feed link
Recommendation 4 Operational Priorities
Recommendation 5 Stacked WIRCam Images
Recommendation 6 T0007 CFHTLS data release
Recommendation 7 2-amplifier readout for ESPaDOnS
Item 12 2013 CFHT Users’ Meeting

Report of the 81st meeting of the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope's Scientific Advisory Council, held in Kingston, Ontario, May 14-15/2012.

The 81st CFHT Scientific Advisory Council meeting was held at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario May 14-15/2012. SAC members John Blakeslee, Mark Chun, Thierry Contini, Thierry Forveille (chair), Rodrigo Ibata, Coralie Neiner, David Sanders, Gregg Wade and Jon Willis (vice-chair) attended the meeting. Hiro Tanaka, from the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan and Jifeng Liu, from the National Astronomical Observatory of China, attended the meeting as invitees. The CFHT Executive Director (ED) Doug Simons, and CFHT Director of Science Operations Daniel Devost, participated in presentations and discussions.

1. Dome shutter repair work

The SAC received a detailed update on the recent dome shutter failure at the CFHT and the efforts of the observatory staff to develop a timely, long-term solution. The SAC recognizes that repairing the dome shutter represents a major effort on the part of the observatory, and the SAC acknowledges their professional and thorough approach. It is clear that achieving a long-term solution to the dome shutter failure is the observatory's top priority and the SAC recognizes that focusing effort on the dome shutter repair may come at the cost of a slip in the schedule of the dome venting project.

Recommendation 1

SAC recommends that the observatory staff continue their efforts to resume normal observations in a safe and timely manner and that achieving a long-term solution to the dome shutter failure remain the observatory's top priority.

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2. 2013-2016 Large Programs

The SAC reviewed the Large Program Ad-Hoc Review Committee (LPARC) report on the 9 submitted proposals for new Large Programs in the 2013A-2016B (inclusive) semesters. The LPARC consisted of three members from each of the C and F agencies, appointed by the CFHT ED, in addition to representatives from Brazil and Taiwan. After review of the LPARC report, national TAC feedback and the science case proposals, the SAC recommended to the CFHT ED to accept four programs:

1. OSSOS: The outer solar system object survey; Gladman et al.
2. MATLAS: Mass assembly of early-type galaxies with their fine structures; Duc et al.
3. Binamics: Binarity and magnetic interactions of various classes of stars; Alecian/Wade et al.
4. Matysse: Magnetic Topogies of Young Stars and the Survival of close-in massive Exoplants; Donati et al.

Two of the recommended proposals (OSSOS and MATLAS) use Megacam, and two use ESPaDOns (Binamics and Matysse), and the ranking above is that which CFHT should respect if conflicts arise. All of the above proposals should obey the same guidelines (Recommendations 9 and 10 of the May 2008 SAC report) as the four LPs from the last round, incompletely repeated here as: (1) submit to CFHT by early February and early August of each year an estimate of their expected RA pressure and observing conditions for the following semester, which will appear in the call for proposals, and (2) submit to both national TACs (two weeks before their meetings) and SAC a short outline summarizing the status of the data acquisition, processing, and analysis. A longer (Mid-Term) review for these LPs should be submitted for the May 2015 SAC meeting.

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3. Consequences of the dome shutter failure for current Large Programs

In response to the recent dome shutter failure and the consequent loss of observing time at CFHT, the SAC contacted the PIs of the current LPs. While all observing programs (both PI and LP) share the same risks regarding observing time losses, the SAC wanted to ensure that important legacy science and data sets were not unduly affected. Feedback from the LP programs indicated the NGVS program was considerably affected because observations for one critical filter would be 50% incomplete. In response the SAC determined that an award of additional time would be desirable at the level required to maintain their core science goals.

Recommendation 2

SAC recommends that NGVS be awarded 80h of observing time to be managed as a new LP program during 2013A. In combination with the remaining 2012B time, this award will be sufficient to complete the remaining u and z band exposures in addition to completing remaining short exposures.

If this award is granted, SAC recommends that observations for the MATLAS LP at RA=12-14h be delayed by one year.

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4. Medium and long-term future of CFHT

The SAC received a comprehensive briefing from the ED on his vision for both the medium and long-term future of CFHT. The SAC was impressed by the quality of ideas and the energetic sense of direction imparted by the presentation. The SAC strongly endorses the strategy presented and looks forward to working in partnership with the new ED.

5. Fiber link from Gemini to SPIRou

The ED presented plans to the SAC to begin discussions with Gemini regarding a fiber link to SPIRou. The SAC supports these plans.

Recommendation 3

SAC recommends that the ED continue discussions related to a future fibre link from Gemini to SPIRou, and that CFHT provide at a future SAC meeting an evaluation of the technical and scientific capabilities of such a facility.

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6. Technical Activities report

SAC reviewed the written technical activities report coordinated by Derrick Salmon. SAC extends its acknowledgement to the CFHT staff for achieving significant progress on several projects while having to address one significant and one major technical emergency.

Recommendation 4

The SAC recommends that the Operational Priorities be revised to:

1 Dome shutter repair work
2 Normal Operations
3 IQIP, including dome venting
4 Sitelle
5 SPIRou
6 Imaka
7 OPERA for ESPaDOns
8 WIRCam data pipeline

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7. Stacked WIRCam images

The CFHT staff reported high demand from PIs for stacked WIRCam images, currently provided on request from Terapix. It was noted however that delivery of the stacks from Terapix is often significantly delayed.

Recommendation 5

SAC recommends that CFHT continue to explore solutions to include stacked WIRCam images as a timely standard deliverable in future data releases.

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8. T0007 release of the CFHTLS data

SAC examined the external review of the draft T0007 release of the CFHTLS data products by Hendrik Hildebrandt. SAC thanks the reviewer for a thorough assessment that identified serious shortcomings in the draft data products. SAC also expressed its disappointment that the T0007 release is still not ready.

Recommendation 6

SAC encourages the CFHTLS team to address the external reviewer's comments in a timely manner, and to promptly make the final release available with suitable coordination with CFHT and Canadian and French data centers.

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9. 2-amplifier readout for ESPaDOns

The SAC received an update on efforts to incorporate the functionality of the new 2-amplifier mode of ESPaDOns into the current reduction package LibreEsprit. This included an assessment of how further efforts may impact upon the development of the new in-house package, Opera, intended to replace LibreEsprit.

Recommendation 7

Considering that (1) a 2-amplifier mode for LibreEsprit would probably only be available a few months before Opera, (2) developing this mode would certainly delay the delivery of Opera, and (3) the SAC would like to have Opera ready by the start of the new LPs, the SAC recommends not to invest further effort in the 2-amplifier mode with LibreEsprit and instead to put software development efforts into finishing Opera.

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10. QSO report

The latest Queued-Service Observing report was presented. 2011B was affected by the Glycol leak in the MegaCam CUTE enclosure and consequently MegaCam programs achieved only a 65% completion rate. The ESPaDOns and WIRCam programs, by contrast, benefited from the rescheduling of MegaCam nights and consequently had good completion rates in spite of being affected by bad weather. The first half of 2012A was affected by bad weather and then by the dome shutter failure, and the semester will necessarily have poor completion rates.

11. Next Meeting

The next CFHT SAC meeting will be held in Waimea, Hawaii, on November 18-20/2012.

12. Users' Meeting

The SAC discussed possible venues for the 2013 CFHT users' meeting, and suggests holding the meeting immediately before or after the 2013 CASCA meeting. The dates and venue of the CASCA meeting have yet to be fixed; however, a meeting in early June on the UBC campus appears likely.

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