ALMA ALMA North American Science Advisory Committee Telecon Phone Meeting 2008, July 25, 2008, 14:00 EDT

Contact Information

  • 2008-07-25 18:00 UT (Friday)
  • Duration: 1 hr
  • USA Number: 1-866-675-5385
  • Outside USA Number: +1 517 444 6916
  • Passcode: 8445333#
  • Leader: Andrew Baker


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)
  • J. Xavier Prochaska (Lick Observatory) (2010)
  • Hsien Shang (ASIAA) (2011)
  • Gordon Stacey (Cornell) (2009)
  • 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


1) Action Items

Open action items:

  • Face to face logistics (Carilli): Jennifer has been notified and she has said
she will start work next week on hotel reservation. CLOSED

  • Taiwan representative reimbursement (Carilli): The ANASAC is a committee of the NRAO Director, and
the costs go to NRAO eg. for Canadian rep, so Taiwan should be covered via the NAASC. CLOSED

  • NAASC status reporting (Baker): what does the ANASAC want to hear about eg. S/W? See
item (4) below.

  • ALMA prototype antenna at ATF -- what to do with it? (Carilli/Wootten): the ANASAC will need
more information on eg. the cost of moving/retrofit for Chile. See charge 4 below.

  • Clarify Charge 3B (Carilli/Russell): get more detail from NSF on 'proposed' ALMA PI grants panel.

2) Update on NAASC & NA ALMA Ops activities (Hibbard)

  • Carol Lonsdale has accepted the position of NAASC Head, replacing Chris Carilli effective October 1 2008.
  • We have one offer out for the second CSV-liaison position. Other recent job actions are detailed in last meetings minutes.
  • The Canadian MOU is ready for signatures.
  • We will be writing the FY08 Program Summary and FY09 Progress Report in the coming weeks. These will be distributed to the ANASAC prior to your face-to-face meeting. Hibbard: These are the report to NSF on what NRAO did with its "grant" over the last year, and the proposal for what it will do next year (against which next year's report will be measured). These have to go to the NSF in September for money to start flowing in October.
  • Because of the election, it is likely that we will go into FY09 under a continuing resolution. This means that instead of the anticipated budget of $11.8M, we may be funded at the FY08 rate of $7.6M. Considering carryover from FY08 (due to slower ramp-up of Chilean Operations), we expect that we will be able to operate throughout the first three quarters of FY09 (i.e. Oct08-Jun09) with relatively little impact (main impact: delay archive set-up, delay some hirings that will still be advertised, delay any tutorials, science workshops and face-to-face meetings). The real pain comes in the final quarter. Since we have not yet received a bottoms-up estimate from Chilean Operations for CY09 and it comprises 60% of the FY09 budget (90% of the CR budget), it is pre-mature to worry too much about this now. We expect a revised Chilean Ops budget by mid September. Speculation that if NSF has any discretion about how it spends what funds it has, obligations to international partners may naturally float to the top of the priority list.
  • CASA
  • Splatalogue
  • ObsTool external test recently completed. 8 testers from NRAO/NAm ALMA participated.

3) Update on ALMA construction by NA project scientist (Wootten)

  • Status Report VertexRSI2 moved from SEF Assembly Building to an SEF antenna station by ALMA Transporter
Nine ALMA antennas are now on-site in Chile: four antennas from Mitsubishi Electric Co. (Melco) and five antennas from VertexRSI. A sixth Vertex antenna will arrive at the OSF early next week. These antennas are undergoing acceptance testing, after which they will leave the contractor’s camp for further tests at the OSF TB, including radiometric tests using the first ALMA receiver suite. These receivers are contained within the ALMA Front End, the first of which was successfully tested at the OSF in June. Recent successful tests at the OSF featured a system that included ALMA elements from the Front End to the correlator and the software interconnecting these devices. The massive antennas are moved by one of the two ALMA transporters; these achieved Provisional Acceptance and has moved the second assembled Vertex RSI antenna from the capacious (but with four antennas under construction, full) Site Erection Facility Assembly Building to an outside pad for holographic surface measurements. Later, a Melco antenna will be moved to the 16,400-foot elevation Array Operations Site (AOS) for high-altitude tests. Work is being completed on pad number 93, close to the AOS technical building, so that these tests may be efficiently accommodated.
  • ASAC Matters.
    • Face-to-face meeting in Charlottesville (Strawman Agenda) after Massive Star Formation Workshop
    • New Charges will require some work
  • Band 10 (350 micron) receivers accepted by ALMA Board as NAOJ contribution. Number of Band 10 receivers in place by 2012 will not be large.
  • Commissioning and Science Verification
    • Rainer Mauersberger and Robert Lucas will be starting work in Chile in the next few weeks.
    • NAOJ has appointed Dr. Tsuyoshi Sawada as ALMA Commissioning Scientist; he will probably arrive in Chile in October of this year. Antonio Hales will start as an ALMA Commiissioning Scientist in October. Denis Barkats has also been hired.
    • Dr. Stuartt Corder has accepted a Jansky Postdoc; he will spend two years in Chile working with the Commissioning Team before moving to Charlottesville for the science portion of his appointment.

4) ANASAC Face-to-Face meeting (Baker)

  • Friday September 12 at the NAASC in Charlottesville. Carilli will check on logistics, including details of reimbursement for Taiwanese member of ANASAC.
  • Charges: arrange subcommittees -- see Supplemental Material
  • Agenda -- See Supplemental Material

Hibbard: would it be better to provide material in advance for people to read, rather than eat up F2F time with presentations? Committee: YES. Hibbard action item = distribute ALMA portions of NSF-bound reports by first week of September (no earlier). Brogan: We need input from the committee on what exactly we should report on (e.g., in the area of user software). Wootten: User software is also an ASAC charge! Johnson: May be better for NRAO to prioritize issues on which you want feedback, not have us make more work for you. Baker: will poll full committee on what software issues are of interest; Brogan will distribute existing CASA presentation plus whatever else is requested in the first week of September. Some sentiment that a presentation from NSF would be welcome.

5) ALMA Workshops (Baker/Indebetouw)

2008, Sept 25-27 in Charlottesville. Registration is closed. We anticipate at least 120 participants. Number of participants now up to 130, with 36 talks, 52 posters, and 1 development discussion. Science program available at

Workshop 2009: Evans will lead organization for workshop relating to "Star Formation and Accretion: Bridging the Gap Between Low and High Redshift". We have identified volunteers for a nascent SOC (Blain, Carilli, Heckman, Jogee, Prochaska, Wilson). Hibbard will check on progress.

Supplemental Material

ANASAC Charges for Sept 12, 2008 Face to Face

  • Charge 1. The ANASAC has a standing charge to review the latest ASAC charges, and provide input to the ASAC members. We ask that the ANASAC pay particular to attention to the charge in which the JAO is asking the ASAC to take a prominent role in defining the scientific priorities for the ALMA development plan. Please discuss and recommend how the ANASAC can facilitate a mechanism to solicit the inputs and interests of the North American community and make sure the ASAC deliberations encompass the needs of the NA community. Ten people have been invited to serve on this committee, balanced by partner and scientific interest; still waiting for responses. Formal charge is to provide a progress report to Board in November with a final report to be delivered in 2009. Because urgency is higher on the U.S. side, based on the desire to feed a development science case to the Decadal Review before the end of 2008 (a la SOFIA), plan is to kick off a series of telecons that culminate in a F2F meeting in October. Development discussion at NAASC workshop may thus be helpful. Wootten is actively brainstorming science drivers for the development case. Volunteers for F2F preparation: Baker, Blain, Weinberger.

  • Charge 2. Please organize the NAASC science workshop for 2009.

  • Charge 3. Continuation of interim charge II from January: "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." In light of the recent suggestion from the NSF/AST Division to convene a dedicated panel to review PI proposals on ALMA-preparatory work, we would like to separate this charge into 2 parts:
    • 3A. Finalize the current ANASAC response to the charge: "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, etc." Existing draft by Blain will probably require modest changes if any.
    • 3B. In the context of the recent NSF/AST suggestion of dealing with ALMA-preparatory PI proposals, consider potential ways to inform the community and to stimulate the submission of ALMA-preparatory proposals in the upcoming round of NSF/AST call for PI Proposals in November 2008. Also consider whether this suggested approach would be a reasonable long-term method of instituting an ALMA User Grants program. Volunteers for F2F preparation: Heckman, Johnson, Prochaska, Williams. Carilli will check with NSF about official stand on separate ALMA-related review panels.

  • Charge 4: The NRAO asks the ANASAC for considerations and suggestions on the potential use of the NA ALMA prototype antenna, once activities at the ATF terminate in Q3 2008. Three options have been proposed to date:
    • A) Incorporate into the ALMA array: This is possible, but not easy. The antenna cannot be transported with the transporter nor can it sit on a standard foundation. It would in effect be a fixed antenna that must be maintained in situ at the high site, and hence be expensive to maintain. Likewise, it would require a major (costly) retrofit, on top of the cost of taking it apart, transporting, and reassembling in Chile.
    • B) Sell it, and recycle the money back to ALMA, if a buyer can be found.
    • C) Use it for ALMA-related science, ie. give it away to an institution that can ensure good science comes out, with access by all of the NA community. The two mm/submm arrays come to mind, but it is also a superb single dish and, on a superb sight, could do interesting science as well. The question is: how to be transparent and fair in deciding who gets it? The cost of transport and reassembly would be the responsibility of the receiving party. Volunteers for F2F preparation: Bally, Johnstone, Wright. Bally: more details are needed here-- costs of moving? operating? Precdent of 12m (sold for a token price to an institution that would continue to give access to U.S. scientific community) may be instructive. ESO antenna is being disposed of separately. This charge is coming in part due to queries from NSF.

Proto-agenda for the F2F, Friday, Sept 12, 2008

  • 1. Dinner -- Thursday night, for those who arrive early enough
  • 2. Project status (Russell, Wootten)
  • 3. NAASC status (Carilli) [may include some discussion of integrated NRAO operations]
  • 4. ASAC Charges (ASAC members, Wootten)
  • 5. ANASAC Charges (Baker, subcommittees)
  • 6. Membership: (Baker, Carilli)
    • Welcome new member from Taiwan
    • Elect new chair (Baker)
  • 7. Closed session -- draft report (Baker)
  • 8. Summary report to NRAO (Baker)

-- AlWootten - 25 Jul 2008

-- AndrewBaker - 26 Jul 2008

-- AndrewBaker - 31 Jul 2008
Topic revision: r5 - 2008-07-31, AndrewBaker
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