Director`s update - Australia Telescope National Facility

Director’s report
Lewis Ball
CASS Director
ATUC Nov 2014
ATUC members
Virginia Kilborn, Swinburne (Chair)
Evan Keane, Swinburne
James Miller-Jones, Curtin
Stas Shabala, UTas
Paolo Serra, CASS
Minh Huynh, UWA
Tobias Westmeier, UWA
Claire-Elise Green, UNSW
Vasaant Krishnan, UTas
• Jo Dawson, UMacq/CASS (Secretary)
2 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
Terms of Reference
• To provide advice to the Director on operational and
developmental issues relating to the facilities provided by the
ATNF. These include the ATCA, Parkes, Mopra, the LBA, Tidbinbilla,
and all aspects of National Facility support.
[and increasingly, on ASKAP]
• To make recommendations to the Director that seek to maximise
the scientific productivity and maintain the international
competitiveness of the ATNF, taking into account the likely
resource availability.
• To consult widely with the national and international community,
liaising where necessary with the national time assignment
groups, to make informed recommendations to the Director on
priorities for both operations and future developments.
3 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
Big picture
• Great progress with ASKAP
• Funding pressures causing pain
• CSIRO restructure clarifies commitment
to National Facilities & Collections and SKA
• Astro governance considerations:
uncertainty <–> opportunity
• New Decadal Plan
4 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
• ASKAP Commissioning and Early
Science (ACES) team progress
• LIEF funding for Parkes UWB receiver
• Request to build 19-beam receiver
for FAST
• Smooth transition to SOC as default
for ATCA observations
• Pawsey Centre online and committed
to radio astronomy
• Accolades:
• Pawsey Medal: Naomi McClure-Griffiths
• John Philip Award: Ryan Shannon
• ASKAP in Australian Innovation Awards
• Conferences & meetings:
• The Periphery of Disks, 2014 Radio School,
ASKAP Community Workshop, Southern
Cross VII Conference (Powerful AGN)
5 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
SKA engineering and science
• 300 attendees at Engineering Workshop
• Full steam ahead for pre-construction
• Science objectives and priorities
• 2014: Science Working Groups –>
Science Review Panel
• 13 highest priority SKA1 science objectives
• Breakdown across instruments
– SKA1-low 3
– SKA1-survey 5
– SKA1-mid 5
• Ongoing iteration as re-baselining progresses (more info – Naomi)
6 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
ASKAP Project
• BETA operating well as
a 6-PAF interferometer
• Prototype Mk-II PAF
tested in AA mode,
now on antenna 29
• Much better perf.
across the band
• Production lines at
Puzzle Precision and
Hut 39 up and running
6 × faster
5 × faster
Aperture Array Results
7 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
Building a PAF
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ACES achievements
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Other science
• Methanol maser in NGC 253:
Shari Breen – UTas, SHAO
• Intermittent pulsar:
Matthew Kerr –
[email protected]
10 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
Budget impact
$3M reduction in CSIRO funding (~15%)
~10 redundancies, staff reduced by ~25 positions from plan
Smaller in-house science and engineering teams
Reduced resourcing for operating Parkes and ATCA
• No routine on-site observing, less flexibility
• CSIRO to cease operating Mopra as a National Facility
• CSIRO’s highest priority in radio astronomy is the construction and
operation of ASKAP as a key part of our contribution to the SKA,
which we see as the future of radio astronomy in Australia
11 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
Astronomy Governance
• CSIRO is committed to radio astronomy, intends to continue to
operate ATNF on behalf of the astronomy community, and stands
ready to operate SKA Australia
• CSIRO & ICRAR have entered a strategic alliance in radio
astronomy aimed at achieving mutual benefit through SKA
• Department of Industry has initiated consideration of possible
changes to the governance of Australia’s national astronomy
research infrastructure
• Scope: ATNF, AAO, AAL, SKA Office
12 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
CSIRO – ICRAR strategic Alliance
• Grow WA as a centre of world-class expertise in astronomy
focused on SKA science and coupled into broader challenges in
data intensive research.
• Within the centre:
• CSIRO will be primarily engaged in the operational elements of the SKA;
• ICRAR will be primarily engaged in the science and research dimensions,
including training and education;
• with each organisation potentially contributing in the other’s sphere as
• CSIRO is growing its presence in WA, building up Perth to
complement our MRO operations team in Geraldton
• Phil Crosby will stay in Perth through 2015
• Kate Brooks and J-C Guzman move to the ARRC in Dec/Jan
13 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
Astronomy Governance Working Group
• Formed by Dept of Industry to re-examine governance
arrangements for Australia’s astronomy research infrastructure
• Convergence of three factors:
• National Committee for Astronomy’s Decadal Planning process, and
increasing alignment of scientific priorities and opportunities between
optical and radio astronomy
• Transition to a more international focus for astronomy facilities and
Australia’s involvement in significant projects (GMT, SKA, possible ESO
membership); and
• The push towards smaller and more efficient government.
• Task: Consider all possible governance options for effectively
managing Australia’s astronomy infrastructure to deliver positive
outcomes for government and the astronomy community.
14 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
Astronomy Governance Working Group
• Membership: Australian SKA Office (Brian Boyle, Chair),
AAO (Warrick Couch), Science and Policy (Rob Porteous), ATNF
(Lewis Ball), AAL (Mark McAuley), NCA (Stuart Wyithe)
• Two possible directions:
• Distributed model (such as at present)
• A consolidated National Observatory
• Timeline:
• December 2014 – draft options paper
• Q1 2015 – broad community consultation
• March 2015 – report
15 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
A viable option should
maximise scientific returns for the Australian community and Government
through providing access to the best possible national and international
be guided by and responsive to strategic priorities set by the astronomy
have a clearly differentiated role as an operator/provider of access to
national and international facilities – distinct from and not competitive with
deliver its roles in operations and instrumentation against demanding
performance goals, including those set by international clients;
support merit as the dominant method of allocating access;
have access to, and manage, a well-defined, stable and appropriately longterm budget to support its differentiated role;
adopt the principle of contestability in delivering its role – accessing expertise
externally where appropriate; and
enable and be focussed on effective translation of research outcomes to
industry and society.
16 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
Breaking news
• Pleiades Award application
• ASA Women in Astronomy chapter
• Advancing gender equity
• Seeking bronze
• Larry Marshall
• Physics background, ICT
17 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
Future outlook
• Now
• Operate Parkes, ATCA with reduced flexibility
• Exit from Mopra operations
• Push ahead with ASKAP project, SKA preconstruction, ASKAP early science
• 5 years time
Operate ASKAP
Push ahead with delivery of SKA1-survey and SKA1-low
Prepare to operate SKA1-Australia
Major ATNF staff centres: Sydney and Perth
Parkes and ATCA addressing legacy projects and transitioning to new
(external) funding and roles
18 | ATUC | Director's Report Nov 2014
We acknowledge the Wajarri Yamatji people as
the traditional owners of the Observatory site.
Thank you
Astronomy & Space Science
Lewis Ball
t +61 2 9372 4300
E [email protected]

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