***************************** Ref H Proposal Number: 5

Proposal Title: Link CASA to the astropy ecosystem CASA2astropy

Name of Reviewer: Ref H

Overall Numerical Score (0.1 to 9.9, low is best): 0.1

Review Comments (by category)

Alignment with NA ALMA Partnership strategic goals Connecting CASA to astropy should be the #1 goal of ALMA, software-wise, at the moment. In fact, I don’t see why that isn’t part of the internal plan at NRAO, rather than seeking development funding.

Strength of the scientific case for the proposed ALMA upgrade concept Astropy has clearly proven itself to be THE state of the art for analyzing astronomical data, so I don’t understand why NRAO doesn’t already have it tightly integrated with CASA. For astronomers to use ALMA data well in conjunction with other (non-ALMA, and especially non-radio) data, astropy’s capabilities are essential-for any and all kinds of science.

Quality of the upgrade conceptual design This combination of researchers and technologists represents the VERY BEST there could be in the python astronomy world today, so I will not second-guess their design—I would ask EXACTLY these people if I were to make such a design.

Technology readiness (the aim is to support a range of upgrades including both those which can be implemented rapidly and those requiring longer-term research and development)

The pieces to do what is needed are all in-place now, or coming very soon, so risk is low.

Strength of the consortium organization (if applicable)

Qualifications of key personnel See above—this group is the BEST at python+astronomy. Even better is that three of the four (Rosolowsky, Ginsburg, Robitaille) are also proven expert topshelf astronomers. Koch may become so too—he’s just younger.

Technical expertise, past experience and technical facilities in the Institutes taking part in the Study Robitaille and Ginsburg are core contributors/creators for astropy—a group cannot get more expert than this.

Level of risk inherent in the proposed design (the aim is to support a range of upgrades including both those which are judged to be low risk, high reward and those judged to be high risk, high reward) Essentially zero risk, and highest reward.

Strength of the scientific team supporting the Study See above.


Ref I Grade: 3.0 Title: Link CASA to the Astrophy Ecosystem -- Ginsburg

Making ALMA data easily accessible to non-experts in submillimeter interferometry is an important objective and developing tools for efficient mining of the ALMA archives has been identified as one of the technical priorities in the Roadmap. This requires user-friendly and easy to use data analysis tools.

Python is the preferred environments for developing community tools for ALMA data analysis. Proposed work builds on an earlier ALMA development study that has resulted in the publicly available radio-astro-tools collection.

Specific improvements to the radio-astro-tools package proposed here include: data cube re-projection, source identification, conversion between CASA and community formats, integration of community developed tools into a common framework, etc.

Although similar tools already exist, they are often not capable of dealing with the large data volumes produced by ALMA. Tools that allow remote access to the ALMA data without downloading full data cubes to the local disk are of particular interest.

Experienced team with a proven track record in developing ALMA analysis tools (radio-astro-tools).

Work will be primarily carried out by an external developer, supervised by the PI. It is not guaranteed that the PI will be able to commit sufficient time to the project after he leaves NRAO.

Interoperability with CASA is a requirement. However, discussions with the CASA team will only take place at the end of the project -- too late to take any possible input from the development team into account.

Number of users is listed as a measure of success, but no statistics are given for the tools developed under the earlier ALMA Development Study. Is there a significant user base?

The budget request seems high for a prototype study and there are no matching contributions.


Ref J


Ref L
Reviewer: L

Grade: 2

Title: Link CASA to the Astropy ecosystem

1. Alignment with NA ALMA Partnership strategic goals;

Align well with the goals of software and archive improvements. 

2. Strength of the scientific case for the proposed ALMA upgrade concept; Comment on the relevance to the ‘ALMA 2030’ development documents.

The proposed study is highly relevant to the ALMA 2030 roadmap for gains 
in usability and impact of the ALMA Archive. Community-developed tools will
be essential for advanced analysis of ALMA data and healthy development of
CASA itself.  

3. Quality of the upgrade conceptual design; 

The study has proposed detailed development plans to improve the previous
ALMA Development Study, the radio-astro-tools, for analyzing ALMA data using
python. The deeper integration between astropy and CASA development will be 
important for ALMA to be a general user instrument. 

4. Readiness for production in the context of the ALMA Development Plan (the aim is to support a range of upgrades including both those which can be implemented rapidly and those requiring longer-term research and development);

The study appears to be very timely as CASA already in transition to 
be used  as a libary within non-CASA python environments. The 
community-developed and maintained tools are ready to be made accessible 
to ALMA users. The plan is well laid out and also ready for future expansion
due to open and flexible development environment. 

5. Strength of the consortium organization (if applicable);

6. Qualifications of the key personnel of the Study;

The proposers have a strong track record and are very experienced in python

7. Technical expertise, past experience (also in series production, if relevant) and technical facilities in the Institutes taking part in the Study;

PI and CO-I are highly qualified. The developer is a leader in this area. 

8. Assessment of the level of risk inherent in the design;

The risk appears to be low. 

9. Strength of the Scientific Team supporting the Study;


10. Level of support guaranteed by the Institutes;

Not clear

11. Budgeted cost of the Study;


-- AlWootten - 2019-06-09
Topic revision: r2 - 2019-07-06, AlWootten
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