1 Recent news
1.1 Construction Progress
On 2007 March 10, a ceremony was held at the Operations Support Facility
(OSF) to celebrate the completion of the roof structure on the OSF
technical facility building. Held in the nascent OSF warehouse, the crowd
of workers and others hear speeches from, among others, the Mayor of San
Pedro de Atacama, Sandra Berna. The facility, which will host about 100
people during operations, consists of three main buildings: the technical
building, hosting the control centre of the observatory; the antenna
assembly building, including four antenna foundations for testing and
maintenance purposes; and the warehouse building, including mechanical
workshops. The building is slated for completion by January 2008.
The major pieces of the first ALMA production antenna have arrived at
the OSF and the antenna is under construction. This is the first major
ALMA hardware to arrive in Chile.
With routine delivery of receivers to the Front
End Integration Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, the instrumentation
learned a great deal about the capabilities these instruments will
the production run, during which time one receiver will need to be
produced about every
month. There are a few change requests for the receivers underway but
significant changes to the capabilities of ALMA. It appears that most of the
receiver technology has achieved the stringent goals of the ALMA project.
Internet connections have been established to the technical building
at the Array Operations Site (5000 m elevation).
Holography and optical pointing
tests are continuing with the two ALMA prototype antennas at the VLA
site. Leonardo Testi has been appointed as the new European ALMA
project scientist. Both the new offline software (CASA) and the ALMA
pipeline have recently completed a round of user tests. A new version
of the Design Reference Science Plan that includes the new receiver
capabilities being contributed by Japan is nearing completion and
will be available starting 22 June 2007. The DRSP can be found at
Figure 1: The first ALMA production antenna at the Operations Support
Facility (11,000 ft elevation) near San Pedro de Atacama in
Chile. Photo was taken 14 May 2007.
2 ALMA Meetings
2.1 ALMA Science Advisory Committee
Doug Johnstone attended his first ASAC meeting this May in Tokyo,
Japan. The two
day meeting consisted of many presentations on the construction and
ALMA, reports from each of the regional science advisory committees
America, and East Asia), as well as a very impressive tour of the ALMA
labs at NAOJ. In addition, the ASAC took up the task of responding to
charges from the ALMA Board: consideration of the Design Reference Science
Plan (DRSP) 2.0; combined operations of ALMA and the Compact Array; the
need for molecular line databases; and the desire for a comprehensive and
coordinated Education and Public Outreach plan. Some key points from the
discussions are summarized below; the final report itself should be available
on the ALMA web site in early July.
Figure 2: ASAC members checking out the development of ALMA Band 10 mixers
(950 GHz or 350 microns) at NAOJ in Japan.
Considering the charges to the ASAC, the DRSP 2.0 showed that all
planned for the baseline ALMA (DRSP 1.0) are still possible with the
array, although at a cost in time and/or sample size. There is a
desire for Compact Array measurements to supplement the main array,
a third of the projects requesting these observations. It remains to
be seen how
many require the observations to be taken simultaneously. Much work has progressed
toward planning for a combined use of ALMA with the Compact Array and it is clear
that, when possible, such observations would be of great benefit to programs
requiring detail across many spatial scales. Further testing of simulations,
however, is needed to determine if there is a rule of thumb for observing
strategy. As well, while combined array use is possible, there will be a
requirement for separate observations as well and continued effort at optimizing
such image reconstructions is ongoing.
ALMA, along with Herschel and SOFIA, will be strongly affected by the severe lack
of molecular line identifications for less abundant species, such as methanol (and
its isotopomers). It is clear that such measurements require detailed laboratory
work and that such research is not extremely urgent for most molecular
spectroscopists. A coordinated plan to find funds to purchase this information
is most likely the necessary approach, including allowing ALMA development funds
to be available for such research.
Finally, it is exciting to note that the ALMA Project is considering carefully the
task of Education and Public Outreach. For a multinational project, however, the
perfect approach is unclear and much work remains to be completed to define the
appropriate role of the various institutions, nations, and Executives. This work is
being addressed at present through the leadership and coordination of an ALMA
Working Group studying EPO. As a member of the ASAC, Doug Johnstone has agreed to
observe this group.
2.2 Canadian ALMA Science Advisory Committee
The Canadian ALMA Science Advisory Committee (formerly known as the Canadian
ALMA Science Steering Committee, an unpronounceable acronym), met at
Queen's University June 3-4, 2007. Current committee members are
Stephane Courteau, James Di Francesco, Mike Fich, Doug Johnstone,
Douglas Scott, Chris Wilson, and T. Webb.
The main focus of the meeting was
to discuss various options for ALMA operations, outreach to the
Canadian community, and the recent meeting of the ASAC. The committee also
heard reports on the status of ALMA construction and the Canadian contributions
to ALMA construction.
Since the report has not yet been finalized, I will give a more detailed
summary of our discussions in my next update.
2.3 Upcoming Science Meetings
In Canada, we are organizing an ALMA workshop to be held in Calgary
May 26-27, 2008 (after the CASCA meeting in Victoria). The title of
the meeting is "Observing with ALMA" and the focus will be on the
science to be done with ALMA and on becoming familiar with the
software tools that ALMA PIs will need to use. The workshop is limited
to 50 people, and the first 20 students to register will get
substantial travel support. Registration opens in January 2007, but I
encourage you to sign up to the email list as soon as possible if you
are interested in this meeting. More information is available at.
NRAO is holding a science workshop on
"Transformational Science with ALMA: Through Disks to Stars and Planets"
in Charlottesville, Virginia June 22-24, 2007.
The ANASAC is beginning to discuss possible topics for scientific
workshops in 2008. If anyone has any suggestions for future workshop topics,
please pass them on to Doug Johnstone or Chris Wilson, who are the two
Canadian members of the ANASAC.
3 ALMA Developments in Canada
3.1 Band 3 Receiver Development
The Band 3 Receiver Development Team is on pace to complete the eight
pre-production phase receivers by the end of 2007. Three cartridges
have already been sent to the Front End Integration Center in
Charlottesville, and a further three are nearing completion. The team
is performing a series of tests on the receivers to determine
important characteristics such as gain compression, beam profile, and
Figure 3: Four ALMA Band 3 receiver cartridges that are under
construction at HIA.
The next major milestone for the team will be the Critical Design
Review planned for late September, which will finalize the Band 3
design before entering the production phase. Later in the year, a
Manufacturing Readiness Review will be scheduled to examine the plan
for the production phase of receiver assembly, with one cartridge
being produced each month! The team is preparing for these events
by finalizing the schedule and production model, determining the
relevant industrial partnerships, and considering any changes that
may be necessary to achieve steady production.
Additionally, the Receiver Team has been contacted by both CARMA and
ARO to provide mixers for their own telescopes. It appears that the
hard work and significant expertise that has accumulated at NRC-HIA
is being well recognized within the larger international astronomical
For more information on the ALMA Band 3 Receiver Project contact
Keith Yeung (Project Manager, email@example.com), Stephane
Claude (Project Engineer, firstname.lastname@example.org), or Doug
Johnstone (Project Scientist, email@example.com).
Software development work in Canada continues at HIA and the
University of Calgary.
Since the previous report, Raymond Rusk has continued to spend some
time working on the User Reference Manual converting Glish examples
for the quanta, measures, coordsys and image tools to "live" Python
code. He has also converted the image and coordsys assay tests, which are used
for integration and unit testing, from Glish to Python. A framework
for assay testing of casapy hasn't been defined yet, so this work is
groundbreaking in the area of assay tests. Following this work, which
is needed for the CASA Sept 2007 Beta release, he will refocus on
tasks that add new functionality to CASA in the area of image
analysis task development.
Shannon Jaeger has continued to work on MSPlot. In early June, she
visited Socorro to meet with the NAUG members to
discuss changes needed on the plotter and completed handling of
plotting of spectral windows with different sized data and added in
time averaging. Also while in Socorro, she initiated work on
supporting source detection in CASA with image fitting.
Arne Grimstrup is settling in to his work on ACS in Calgary. After
training at ESO, he has assumed responsibility for the maintenance
and continued development of the ACS Python APIs, Notification
Service, Event Browser, and support for the American ALMA teams. He also
contributes to the maintenance of other ACS subsystems as directed by
the ACS Team Leader. Recently he has been involved with ACS/CASA
The big news in the areas of ACS software development is that
Gianluca Chiozzi, ACS Team Leader, is moving to a new role as the
Head of the Control Software Department at ESO. Joe Schwartz will
become the new ACS team leader at the end of June and Arne Grimstrup
will then report to Joe.
Chris Wilson spent a week in Socorro working on VLA data and took the
opportunity to run some new data through the ALMA pipeline script. The
script performed very well on the VLA data and a detailed comparison
between the pipeline results and images produced by hand showed very
good agreement. She also finished the report from the pipeline user
test which was held this winter and submitted it to the project. The
pipeline team is now preparing for their first test of the reduction
heuristics for single dish ALMA data, which is expected to be held
later this summer.
Chris Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org
Canadian ALMA Project Scientist
(with input from Arne Grimstrup, Shannon Jaeger, Doug Johnstone, and Raymond
Rusk as well as material from Al Wootten)
File translated from
On 21 Jun 2007, 21:02.