UKIRT Annual Report 1999
THE UNITED KINGDOM INFRARED TELESCOPE
3.6. Other Developments
3.6.1. Service Observing
Service observing is carried out on approximately nine nights per
semester, a level agreed with the PATT UKIRT TAG. An analysis covering the
period May 1999 - May 2000 produces the following results: during this
12-month period, 60 service applications were received. For a nominal 2.5
hours/project this amounts to 150 hours or about 15 nights. Given that not
all nights are clear, the normal allocation is considered appropriate.
Proposals were received from all over the world, from mainland USA (8
proposals), Germany (6), UK (35), India, Greece,
Netherlands, France, Italy (1 each).
34 projects were deemed completed and at least some data were taken for
another 23. Common themes included: brown dwarfs, often confirming SDSS
candidates; monitoring of Supernovae; binaries and transients, especially
X-ray transients; multiwavelength campaigns involving spacecraft; recovery of
PATT projects via one-off calibrations or missing fields.
Publications arise from the Service programme at a slightly higher rate
than from normal UKIRT operations. This reflects the limited nature of the
programmes carried out, the fact that in many cases the data are reduced
by UKIRT staff, and the fact that many service programmes are key to
completing papers based on work carried out at UKIRT and elsewhere.
3.6.2. Reactive Scheduling
In semester 99A, 10 nights were allocated for reactive recovery of
``starred'' projects (U/99A/17 Eales and
U/99A/61 Cotter), for an ongoing commitment to the ``starred'' LT46
to monitor Sakurai's object, and to compensate projects over-ridden by GRBs
etc. Approximately half this time was required to complete the two
in-semester programmes. The remainder was distributed between overridden
programmes, targets of opportunity, UFTI training and engineering.
In semester 99B 12 nights were allocated for reactive recovery,
10 of which were allocated to ``starred'' projects (U/99B/08 Eales and
U/99B/49 Hodgkin) and the LT46
project. The two new programmes required considerable
reactive recovery; these observations were
carried out by T.Kerr, T.Hawarden and C.Davis.
The effectiveness of the reactive scheme is clearly demonstrated by the
completion statistics on these two programmes: given the original
scheduled time only, Eales' programme would have achieved only 17%
completion; by the end of the semester, it was 77% complete. Similarly
Hodgkin's proposal was 100% complete by the end of the semester while
classically it would have been only 36% complete.
3.6.3. Flexible Scheduling
Two experiments investigating the requirements of flexible scheduling on
the basis of weather conditions were carried out in semester 1999B. The
objective was to meet the needs of relatively demanding (better than
0.5" seeing) imaging programmes by flexing them against observations
with less stringent requirements. In one case the ``most demanding''
observer was present and was expected to fall back to a less demanding
project if required. In the other case the reverse situation applied. In
one case the alternate project was a mixture of observations drawn from
the service-observing queue, in the other it was a self-contained
project of basically similar observations.
For each run the absent PI was asked to supply a detailed observing plan
for review by the actual observer. In addition a set of guidelines was
established, setting out the rules for switching between projects and
determining how any time lost would be charged to each project. Overall
the experiment was successful: the two projects requiring good seeing
obtained more data in appropriate conditions than they would have done in
a traditional fixed schedule. The flexing process also allowed a better
match of observing windows with target RAs for all the projects involved.
A number of lessons were learned which must be applied to further
developments in this area. The JAC overhead was about 50-60% greater
than would have been required to support a single observer who made their own
target lists, wrote their own tapes etc. To mitigate this overhead through
use of software tools will be a key to any future flexible scheduling of UKIRT.
The Newsletter was published twice, preceding PATT deadlines,
edited by C. Davis.