ALMA ALMA North American Science Advisory Committee Telecon Phone Meeting 2006-September 1

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Contact Information

  • Call date: 2006-09-01 18:00 UT (Friday)
  • Call time 14:00 ET or 18:00 UT
  • Duration: 1 hr
  • USA Number: 877-874-1919
  • Outside USA Number: +1 203-320-9891
  • Passcode: 185064
  • Leaders: Chris Carilli, Jon Williams


ANASAC Members (Attendees in RED):
  • Andrew Baker (U. Md.) (2008)
  • John Bally (U. Col.) (2008)
  • Andrew Blain (Caltech) (2007)
  • Crystal Brogan (U. Hawaii) (2008)
  • Todd Clancy (SSI) (2009)
  • Xiaohui Fan (U. Az.) (2007)
  • Terry Herter (Cornell) (2009)
  • Paul Ho (CfA, Harvard) (2008)
  • Kelsey Johnson (UVa) (2009)
  • Doug Johnstone (HIA/DAO, Victoria) (2007)
  • Elizabeth Lada (UFla) (2009)
  • Lee Mundy (U. Md) (2007)
  • Jean Turner (UCLA) (2007)
  • Alycia Weinberger (DTM) (2009)
  • Jonathan Williams (U. Hawaii) (2008)
  • Christine Wilson (McMaster U.) (2007)
  • Mel Wright (UC Berkeley) (2008)
(Bold = Member of ASAC)

  • J. Hibbard
  • A. Wootten
  • Carilli
  • Russell


1) Old Business (Hibbard)

Agenda and Minutes of 28 April 2006 meeting. Approved?

Action items from last time:

* ACTION: Schedule AnasacF2f meeting.
    • WHO: Next Chair
    • Due: next meeting
    • Done: Done: September 29,30 Charlottesville

* ACTION: Help further define NAASC workshop on Disks
    • WHO: C. Brogan
    • Due: next meeting (9/1)
    • Done: LOC organized: see below

* ACTION: Send Bally ASAC invitation from Director's office
    • WHO: Director's office
    • Due: next meeting (9/1)
    • Done: Done

All action items are accounted for

2) ALMA Science IPT News (Wootten)

More from Al here.

Al Wootten updated the committee on the progress in the project, as given in project news above. There is an ad for project scientist posted. There is also search for science ops director that proceeding quickly. Mundy emphasized the project scientist ad is very important, and we should encourage qualified applicants. The ad makes the position sound like it is a term appointment, but that should be negotiable with executives; don't let that discourage promising candidates.

3) Reports on ANASAC Charges 1,2 (Williams, subcommittee chairs)

  • This is main issue and should take most of the hour.
  • See supplementary material below.

New Action item: revised reports by Sept 7.

Charge 2: Baker Full Development pushed-out to 2015, ramp-up 2011ish. Not much prior. Politically difficult for all partners to sign on to 'development pot'. Clear -- plan must be attached to specific projects for all executives. Mundy -- will be top-down political process so point (3) may not be so important, really wish-list for process. Perhaps scale-it back and leave it as a North American 'preference' Mundy asked about tension between keeping community and NRAO development 'alive' Russel - NRAO must be part of a community-wide process, everyone should stand and fall on their own merits. He asks: is there going to be a community wide science driven process, or just ALMA soliciting technical proposals? Clearly the global process needs to be sorted out before we can make detailed plans, and there is no really impending deadline, so current charge 2 input should be seen as some guidelines both within US and gobally endorsed by the North American community. Overall, looks good.

Charge 1: NRAO comments: Carilli - I can see some common ground already, it may come down to just (scaling back) the raw number, and perhaps having some guidelines on how the money is spent (eg. for education, students postdocs...) Also, we should remain aware that the impetus for this came from the decadal report, who recommended nasa-type funding for major new ground based facilities. clearly, alma is the first of those facilities coming on line since that report. if we decide to forego this opportunity for ALMA, we essentially kill this recommendation for the next telescopes in-line, such as TMT, SKA... Conversely, if TMT then goes for such funding, the ALMA will have missed an opportunity.

FROM WILLIAMS: For the minutes, you can say that we had an hour long discussion on Charge 1 among the non-NRAO members of the committee (note also that Paul Ho joined in at some point). There was unanimous support for an ALMA grants program that links money to observing time and also support for related theory and archival research. There was also full agreement on asking that NRAO support page charges and travel to NAASC for data reduction and analysis and other ways for operating the user support in a way that keeps the administrative overhead as low as possible.

We spent a lot of time on the best way to implement such a program. I'm not sure what kind of specifics you, or the NSF, are looking for here. The general feeling was that the funding would lead to the best science if it came with few restrictions: there did not seem to be support for prioritizing students or postdocs. One question that came up is whether the ALMA fellows will be funded from a separate pot.

We spent the most time debating the appropriate level of support. This discussion is ongoing and you may see emails going to anasaconly about this. We are going to poll for the level of support this weekend and will iterate from there. It does not appear that we will achieve unanimous agreement but I expect we will reach a clear consensus. We should have a final recommendation for you by late next week.

RESPONSE FROM CARILLI: The new plan is not to have a separate ALMA prize fellowship program, but to just have ALMA support part of the Jansky fellows program as NRAO's prize fellowship program, and then hire some ALMA postdocs that have some functional duties.

4) Summary of ALMA Ops, NAASC proposal review (Carilli)

  • Results of recent work by Ops Working Group was used to generate revised ALMA Ops budget. Some noteworthy paradigm changes:
    • Includes ACA
    • We adopted ASAC suggestion that Early Science Decision Point be defered until Jan 2010, to allow proper commissioning. Now expect Call for Proposals Jan 2010; Early Science 8 mo later with 15 element array, 4 bands (ops plan will detail what types of community programs could be executed prior to Early Science e.g., Demo Science).
    • Baseline plan is a single international PRC which meets once/year for first 3 years, then 2/year. Executives could have regional PRC if they wish, but must pay for it themselves.
  • This is still a work in progress (still incorporating revised paygrades for staff; startup costs; OSF facilities costs), but preliminary revised Ops budget sent to ALMA Board for Aug3rd telecon. Ramp-up is shallower, total cost to each partner is nearly the same as before (so Japanese contribution is sufficient to cover additional cost of ACA).
  • New Ramp-up still causes some partners much problems. "Contingency" removed; development monies being delayed (don't ramp-up until 2015). Final amount of development still being discussed by Board. Should be resolved at Sept 14 Board telecon.

  • Get ANASAC reports plus latest budget End Aug.
  • Draft to AUI/Director's office Sept 8
  • ASAC review of ALMA ops in Florence Sept 15, 16
  • Draft to ANASAC for review Sept 18
  • Internal NRAO delta-review Sept 28
  • ANASAC face-to-face Sept 29,30
  • Submit NAASC plan to NSF Sept. Oct 27
  • Submit ALMA ops plan to Board Oct 27

Hibbard summarized activities of the operations working group, including face-to-face meetings in garching and prague. There has been a lot of work in ops plans and paradigms. The ramp-up is one open issue. Early science decision point has been delayed to allow for commissioning, and more modes and telescopes for early science. Is there something that can be done earlier, such as demo or verification science? How to involve the community in this? Baseline plan is for single PRC. Baseline plan needed by Sept 14, so things are evolving quickly. Will report status at ANASAC f2f.

Carilli summarized NSF proposal timeline. Mundy asked about the 1 week timescale prior to F-F. This is dictated by the fact that the ops plan (of which the naasc plan includes a fair fraction) will not be distrbuted to all the partners, so we cannot put esac and jsac at a disadvantage prior to ASAC face to face.

5) ASAC Report (Mundy)

More news after face-to-face. So far there is very little info on the charges (such as obs modes) which has been distributed to ASAC. Material will be distributed prior to ASAC meeting for comment by ANASAC.

6) ALMA Workshops (Brogan)

  • Planning of 2nd NAASC Science Workshop on PP disks is progressing.
    • The title for the next NAASC science workshop will be: "Transformational Science with ALMA: Through Disks to Stars and Planets" to be held in Charlottesville, VA June 22-24, 2007.
    • The SOC is John Bally, Crystal Brogan, Masa Hayashi, Michiel Hogerheijde, Doug Johnstone, Zhi-Yun Li, Lee Mundy, Jonathan Williams, & Al Wootten
    • Construction of the meeting webpage and 1st announcement is underway.
  • A sample ALMA Meetings held in 2006:

Brogan says that planning for workshop is going ahead full-steam.

7) Face-to-face

  • Date of next phone meeting according to our current schedule the next one should be on: 2006-10-27 18:00 UT (Friday)
  • Face-to-face Charlottesville September 29,30 2006

Supplemental Material

Charges May 2006, and subcommittee preliminary reports (Williams)

CHARGE 1. User Grants program: the grants program is a recommended priority by the decadal committee. NRAO can act as an advocate for the community in this regard, but the real impetus must come from the community. The Grants should not be considered funding for NRAO, but should be considered funding for support for the community use of ALMA. Does the community want a grants-with-observing time program associated with ALMA? What is a reasonable starting amount for such a program? The number we have penciled-in is $10 M/year, which is about $1 per second observing time (similar to space missions).

  • Can the ANASAC provide an endorsement letter for a grants program (if that is what you decide), with a rough description of the kind of grants program the user community would like to see, and possibly a guideline as to the amount?

Subcommittee: Fan, Clancy, Weinberger, Bally

CHARGE 2. Community involvement in ALMA operations: The NSF has asked us to identify areas where ALMA operations funding could be spent outside of NRAO, ie. in the US University community. The obvious areas are (i) software development: this could include software to support new ALMA observing modes, or to take advantages of new computing hardware, or advanced analysis routines, such as complex, wide field spectral line analysis and visualization. (ii) hardware development: possibly new receiver bands or advanced WVRs (iii) educational activities: scientific meetings, students, and postdocs support

  • Can the ANASAC make a set of recommendations as to where they think the Universities could best get involved with ALMA operations?

subcommittee: Baker, Blain, Johnson

Addition to Charge II:

Concerning Charge II to the ANASAC about community involvement in ALMA ops, we should clarify that we are most interested in getting input on the general process for deciding how development funds are prioritized scientifically, and then the process for deciding how best to implement these priotities. The exact detailed programs are less of an issue, since these will evolve with time, although if they have some specific recommendations in the near term, those are welcome.

One operational model for the prioritization process would be to hold regular (annual?) open workshops to discuss the science priorities of the communities, and then the best means of implementation.

CHARGE 3: A review of the North American ALMA operations funding proposal, prior to submission to the NSF. Community assessment of the proposal is an absolutely crucial task, and should make the proposal much stronger. Can the ANASAC review the draft NSF proposal, and provide a short assessment of the proposed North American ALMA operations funding plan?

subcommittee: ASAC members

ChrisCarilli - 01 Sept 2006
Topic revision: r2 - 2006-09-02, JohnHibbard
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