ALMA ALMA North American Science Advisory Committee Telecon Phone Meeting 2008 March 08

Contact Information

  • 2008-3-14 18:00 UT Please check your local time; it may have changed! (Friday)
  • Duration: 1 hr
  • USA Number: 1-866-675-5385
  • Outside USA Number: +1 517 444 6916
  • Passcode: 8445333#
  • Leaders: Andrew Baker, Chris Carilli

Vertex Number 3 gets its crown. The VertexRSI antenna No 3 for ALMA has its backup structure mated to the pedestal.


ANASAC Members (Attendees in RED):
  • Andrew Baker (Rutgers) (2008) [Chair]
  • John Bally (U. Colorado) (2008)
  • Andrew Blain (Caltech) (2008) (ASAC Vice Chair, NA)
  • Mike Fall (Space Telescope Science Institute) (2010)
  • Tim Heckman (Johns Hopkins) (2010)
  • Shardha Jogee (U. Texas) (2010)
  • Kelsey Johnson (U. Virginia) (2009)
  • Doug Johnstone (HIA/DAO, Victoria) (2008)
  • Gordon Stacey (Cornell) (2009)
  • Xavier J. Prochaska (Lick Observatory) (2010)
  • Alycia Weinberger (DTM) (2009)
  • Jonathan Williams (U. Hawaii) (2008)
  • Mel Wright (UC Berkeley) (2008)
(Bold = Member of ASAC)

  • J. Hibbard
  • A. Wootten
  • C. Carilli
  • C. Brogan
  • D. Emerson
  • R. Indebetouw


1) Action Items (Carilli)

Open action items:

No open AI identified

2) Update on NAASC activities (Carilli)

  • Chris Carilli will move to new position as Observatory Chief Scientist, as soon as his replacement as the AD for NAASC is in place. An open search for a new AD for NAASC is being headed by Paul Vanden Bout and the vacancy notice will be posted very shortly.

3) Update on ALMA (Blain)

  • Input to Report on New Charges from Board, reflected upon at the 1-2 February 2008 meeting at the ALMA Operations Support Facility, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. (Blain)
ASAC Charges and agenda, see powerpoint presentations in linkto supplemental materials at agenda end

ALMA Project Manager Tony Beasley will be leaving his position. Andrew Blain will become the new ASAC chair on 7/4/08.

ASAC Charge I = software. There is a concern that with the closure of the ATF (6/08), the absence of any equivalent setup in Chile (there will only be three antennas at the OSF 11/08), and pressure to get hardware running that software testing will get the short end of the stick. This may motivate keeping the ATF open through 9/08. The hope is also that things will go more smoothly with production antennas than with ATF prototypes.

Some discussion of CASA testing. Bally: installation was bundled so as to overwrite libraries; sent email from bottom of CASA web page. [Advertised 2/20 release with a non-root install option is waiting on a stable Mac version and expected "any day now".] Williams: impressed by smooth installation on an Intel Mac; wants to get access to mm data from SMA/CARMA. Brogan: not clear how much effort developers should spend on telescope-specific mm calibration issues given all else on their plate; IRAM PdBI work by Lucas was facilitated by the fact that ALMA = PdBI data format; testing imaging routines should still be possible. VLA 7mm data would be worth testing if anyone has some.

ASAC charge II = calibration plan. R. Hills and A. Peck at JAO are on top of this. Polarization is a current concern. Some thought being put into optimizing sidelobe response for intermediate-scale configurations with a 50-antenna main array.

ASAC charge III = development plan (meshes with ANASAC Charge I). ASAC has identified six scientific themes for the science-driven review of ALMA development priorities, along with two people per theme who will be invited to co-chair subcommittees. This exercise will proceed over the next year. Thanks to ANASAC members who offered names of useful North American participants. Eventual report expected to be edited by incoming ASAC chair Blain.

4) Discussion of ANASAC Charge II (Blain, Fall, Jogee, Johnson)

See text of charge II below.

Blain is in the process of writing up the results of subcommittee brainstorming, and will circulate a draft this weekend. A preview of key points: (1) There are not enough students and postdocs currently in the field, from the point of view of operating and scientifically exploiting ALMA. (2) People who are in the field already need to be encouraged to become more involved with ALMA, e.g., via sabbatical visits, subsidies to deliver ALMA talks at meetings, etc.

Vigorous discussion by committee members, including various points... Involvement by UROs is key. Support of a future facility (SCUBA2/LMT/CCAT) limited by US budgets. ANASAC response here needs to mesh with ops plan. Contacts with NSF indicate that this is indeed a zero-sum game budgetarily, but if we come up with a recommendation for fostering ALMA-related science then NSF-AST will be willing to examine it. Could be folded into the PI grants program if that program is able to grow. Fall: surprised by the paucity of postdocs in the NAASC plan. Johnson: 3 in-house ALMA 50/50 postdocs + 4 Jansky fellows + 2 predocs + somewhat foggy "student program". How do we quantify how many new Ph.D.s with ALMA-related interests are actually being produced each year in North America? Guess is 5-6/year; most CSO postdocs seem to come from Europe; upcoming synthesis imaging workshop (a.k.a. "VLA Summer School") could be used to assess this. Johnstone: Canada has had a successful program to install numericists in university positions by picking up an initial year of salary. Hibbard: draft NAASC visitor program will ramp up from 1 to 2 visits per week, with travel, support, and per diem covered.

5) ALMA Workshops (Baker/Indebetouw)

Six invited speakers have said yes. Remainder of program will be chosen from "wish list" and other contributed talks; May 1 is the abstract deadline. Thanks to Brogan for the nice poster and Remijan for his work on the website.

6) ALMA Science IPT Science IPT concerns. (Wootten)

8) Date of next telecon (every second month)

  • Date of next telecon is May 23, 2008

Supplemental Material


NRAO has given us a new set of charges, which are laid out below. Please read through them in advance of our telecon next week (January 18th at 14:00 EDT), when we will begin discussing them. Our initial focus will probably be Charges I and III, on which we need to provide input to our ASAC members before their February 1-2 face-to-face meeting in Santiago.


Charge I: The ALMA Board has charged the project to develop a long-term "ALMA Development Plan" in consultation with the international astronomy community. In response, the project has proposed a process in which the ASAC plays a prominent role in organizing discussions of the scientific drivers for ALMA in 2020. The NRAO asks the ANASAC to (a) recommend key scientific themes, as well as potential discussion participants with panchromatic expertise, which the North American ASAC members can use as input, and (b) discuss more generally how to ensure that the interests and needs of the North American community are fully taken into account within the framework of the Development Plan's evolution.

[Note that the above relates to the current ASAC Charge III, on which the ALMA board wants the ASAC response by its April meeting.]

Charge II: The NRAO asks the ANASAC to consider the issue of stimulating research in preparation for the use of ALMA, e.g., wide-field surveys to identify interesting targets, laboratory work on astro-chemistry, or theoretical work on star and galaxy formation, and how such preparatory research before ALMA is operational can be funded, as well as recommending avenues by which the NRAO or other organizations could promote such efforts.

Charge III: Please consider the ASAC charges and provide input on these charges to the North American ASAC members. The ASAC charges can be found at: Supplemental material from ALMA EDM

-- AlWootten - 05 Mar 2008

-- ChrisCarilli - 01 Apr 2008

-- AndrewBaker - 18 May 2008

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Topic revision: 2008-05-18, AndrewBaker
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