ANASAC Telecon (02/10/16)

Present: Rachel Osten, Karin Oberg, Dominic Reichers, Shih-Ping Lai, Alberto Bolatto, Tony Remijan, Phil Jewell, Al Wootten, Douglas Scott, Dan Marrone, James Di Francesco

Discussion Items


- ALMA Board Charges to ASAC - see ANASAC-only Google doc of charges, with comments from others. - advice from Obsy Scientist: 'At regional meetings, you should pay particular attention to charges (4) and (6). 'Here are my thoughts on some of the charges: - 'Charge 2: Information: ALMA Publication Statistics: ALMA_publication_statistics.pdf - 'Charge 3: The ASAC is responsible for generating the input, but note this is related to charges 6 and 7. - 'Charge 4 should be self-explanatory - we would like to hear the top-level issues of your respective communities (as well as hear the things that are going well). - comments from Google doc: user interface comments: experience of new ALMA users, CASA, wide feeling about things to be improved? - Al: CASAguide not adequate for data combination? Alberto: want to verify what people think. Al: my own experience with CASAguide was that it did not get you where you want to go without additional help from locals, not sure if I'm community here. Will compare notes with Alberto about this in Santiago. Alberto: is there a plan in the NAASC to provide combined datasets to the users? Had problems with combining data reduced with different version of CASCA. Will have an impact on use of ALMA data.
NAASC is ready to help if needed. Douglas: presumably will become a bigger deal as more ACA data are provided. Tony: No plan to provide these combinations at the moment, due to priorities. Shih-Ping: no task to scale one dataset, need expanded CASAguides? Alberto: not an insurmountable problem: guides may need updates. - Rachel: Comment by Dan, how to interpret the very long file names and parse the many plots provided. No idea how non-experts are dealing with the complexity of the provided information. Douglas: possible topic for an HIA-produced video? Rachel: A video walkthrough of what you expect to see when you open your data is a good idea. Alberto: explaining format of received data is one topic, walk through the meaning of each one of the plots is another topic. Examples of problematic things to look for can be given. - Rachel: Comment by Karin: how are novice users using their ALMA data? Statistics available for PIs coming to the NAASC for assistance? Al: Not most of them? Alberto: visit budget not being used as expected?
we can handle more visits. Tony: Data reduction party (12 visitors) and 7 PI visits since the start of FY2016 (4.5 months). Rachel: seems healthy. - Tony: these are good ideas but don't forget that new capabilities by the NAASC have impacts on the workload of the NAASC staff (visits, etc). It's a matter of priority, and we are trying to balance competing priorities.
not competing because visits can provide inputs to improvements.
does the NAASC have a resource plan, with a baseline plan for the F2F visits? Tony: We do. Phil: Our resource plan balances how much staff we have for data processing and delivery, visitor support, documentation, so we do a reasonable amount of all of those things. If we shift things one aspect or another, something's has to give on something else. It can be justified, and the ANASAC has a role to let the NAASC know if its priorities are sound, but recall that it would be at the expense of some- thing else. Tony: don't forget we've had a tremendous turnover in staff in the last little while, had to balance also bringing new people up to speed. Alberto: no one here is complaining about the level of support, and we are suggesting ways here for improvements which is a different thing. - Alberto: Is there something the NAASC is doing that you'd like to see the other regions do? Tony: Imaging pipeline testing and development really fell down from Europe, up to NA to grab that and spearhead it for the rest of Cycle 3, to see if images produced are useful to data reducers, and come up with a strategic plan for imaging and calibration for Cycle 4. We needed to put resources on that so we could use the pipeline for future Cycles, as a top priority. We picked up other things too. Alberto: what would be useful? Al: what about selfcal? We only do it if its needed in QA2. - 'Charge 6: Over the next ~5 years, what are the main enhancements that the ASAC would like to see implemented on ALMA? These could be hardware, software, or new observing modes. To help initiate the discussion, the JAO and IST are preparing a list of potential items for you to consider, but you should not be confined to this list. I hope to distribute the list to you next week. In order for your recommendations to have the most impact, the ASAC should provide input to the ALMA management team (AMT) f2f meeting that is happening the days before the ASAC f2f meeting. Therefore, the ASAC would need to have discussions at the February telecon and over email in advance of the f2f. - IST suggests to think of these in the vein: 'What are the highest priority science goals for ALMA over the next 5 years that cannot be done now or can only be done inefficiently? What enhancements are needed to enable that science? - The science goals should be tied to the list of activities that could be done in the next five years, mainly to finish capabilities that were nominally either baseline activities or could be done in replacement of baseline activities to enhance steady-state operations, or other small items that would not require substantial investment. A list of such enhancements is provided below. For example, suppose that a goal is to improve the efficiency of a spectra scan. Sensitivity would be increased by a number of items listed below, but also by for example, implementing
  1. or 4 bit correlation (same as adding several additional antennas) but of course as explained in ALMA Memo 556 that would halve the number of spectral channels available. That may be OK for extragalactic objects but not for those with narrow lines. For the latter, implementation of 'Highest spectral resolution modes halving the currently finest resolution' may be desirable if the loss of channels is OK. - List of ALMA Enhancements: ASACEnhancements_v4.pdf - Rachel: what five items does the committee like most? Concerned at ASAC telecon that there was a restatement of things she thought were already in the works, implication that if we did not identify that these were important, that they wouldn't be worked on (e.g., the duplication tool).
there's no duplication tool?? Rachel: it's listed as a thing to work on. Douglas: at least spectral scans appear to be covered, so that's good. Alberto: we've been hearing that for awhile, hopefully it comes to fruition this time around. Rachel: specific suggestions from a planetary group were forwarded by Arielle Moullet. Douglas: these priorities are very different to the ANASAC's, good to hear this information. Alberto: we need something reasonable for Jon. Rachel: We've got Alberto's email, suggest ANASAC write in with their own two cents. We have a short fuse to turn this around, in advance of the upcoming ASAC meeting later this month. Set up a Google doc with a deadline for comments on charge 6 by next week. Alberto: use whatever you want as a starting point, but you need a basis of real scientific priority and usage in our community.
given the nature of the items listed, my personal opinion is that the things we've been advocating for a long time are no-brainers that should be at the top of our list. The next tier of items that have a broad science base and specific science cases should come next. Alberto: how will you proceed, Rachel? Google doc? Rachel: will use the one that Karin started. Not looking at a laundry list, maybe five items with one top priority and maybe one medium one. Will start this tonight. Nice to get a sense of how much support there is from each ANASAC member for any items, supposed to be speaking to the community but we all have our own individual biases. People willing to do that? [Broad consensus]
would personally like to get away from pet projects and think about things that benefit a larger group of people. Rachel: let's try to wrap this up by next Tuesday. Similar consultations being sought in other communities. Alberto: "doubling the bandwidth" in Bands 9/10 seems like a good idea. E.g., other sideband in DSB is decorrelated at the moment, and perhaps that could be recovered. - 'For Charge 7, I would like us to take a look at how Grades A/B/C are assigned to proposals, how projects are executed at the telescope, and how are observations are declared “done”. A fresh look would be helpful as we approach steady state operations. - 'For Charge 8, I hope to provide you with a summary of my ideas by February 15.'

- The ALMA Cycle 4 pre-announcement was made on 10 December. A Call for Proposals with detailed information on Cycle 4 (Oct 2016-Sept 2017) will be issued on 24 March 2016, with an anticipated deadline for proposal submission on 21 April 2016. Proposers will have several new opportunities available, including: - Compact Array stand-alone mode - Large Programs have been announced; see the linked portal article. - Millimeter wavelength very long baseline observations; See Portal Announcement. VLBI call comes out at the same time as ALMA Call, deadline one week later with simple webform to coordinate a EHT project. Took longer than anticipated to sort out VLBI 1 mm proposal scheme. - Solar observations. - Transitions - E. Murphy has arrived at NAASC from Caltech - S. Stierwalt began at NAASC 14 Dec 2015

2. ALMA Development

- Approved Principles for the ALMA Development Program (please see attachment). - Development update. - ALMA Development Studies 2016 (Cycle 3) are announced, awarded and underway. Didn't get the list to disseminate until right before Christmas, projects will run beyond the end of the FY but we will deal with it. - There will be a Call for ALMA Development Studies on March 1, followed by a Call for Upgrades (i.e., "Development Projects") to ALMA under the same program.

3. Principles of ALMA Proposal Review.

- Let us reach some consensus on how we think duplications should be assessed and handled. - Principles of Proposal Review Process (see attachment)

4. Molecular Gas in Galactic Environments, a NAASC Conference

- Registration is now open for Molecular Gas in Galactic Environments, a four-day Workshop to be held 4-7 April 2016 in Charlottesville, Virginia by the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC). Please register and submit abstracts for this Workshop, which focuses on the character of molecular gas identified in various extragalactic environments. - Abstract deadline is next Monday. Hope you will register and join us.

5. 2016 ALMA Science Meeting

- SOC formed, will be pursuing invited speakers soon. - will occur in Indian Wells, CA in mid- to late-September.

6. Press Releases

7. ALMA Papers (choose ALMA)

8. AOB

- ALMA is currently in its engineering period and will resume observations at the beginning of March. Alberto: how's the weather been? Tony: there were no high-frequency observations in C36-1, now moved to a new configuration. NAASC thinking about contacting PIs to see if resoluton requirements can be relaxed. Weather has not been terrible but it hasn't been great either.

-- AlWootten - 2016-02-24
Topic revision: r1 - 2016-02-24, AlWootten
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