ALTAIR Final Report posted

Download here: ALTAIR Final Report.

The Senior Review report urged NOAO to ensure that community access to facilities remains scientifically balanced over all apertures. To accomplish this, NOAO has charged this committee, ALTAIR (Access to Large Telescopes for Astronomical Instruction and Research), to develop a prioritized, quantitative, science-justified list of capabilities appropriate to telescopes with apertures between 6 and 10 meters, together with estimates of the number of nights needed. The committee must both address current needs and uses of such telescopes and attempt to predict how these needs will evolve over the next ten years — into the era of Pan-STARRS, LSST, JWST, ALMA, GSMT, and the NVO.


Liaisons and Observers


Draft Charge to the ALTAIR Committee:

  1. Gather input from the broad U.S. community in order to develop an understanding of the instrumental (and other) capabilities needed on ground-based O/IR telescopes of aperture between 6.5 and 10 meters, between now and the end of the 2010-2020 decade. The list of capabilities should flow from community scientific aspirations and should represent all areas of astronomical research and wavelength and types of observation, though the committee should roughly prioritize and/or establish a time sequence.
  2. Develop an understanding of the U.S. community’s present use of the large telescopes within the system, the Gemini telescopes and those available through TSIP, including how the oversubscription rates, the number of astronomers who use them, the papers published, and the impact of those papers are related to the capabilities that are being provided. Both instrumental capabilities and aspects of operations (e.g., queue vs. classical) should be considered.
  3. Within the context of the entire U.S. system, identify those capabilities which the Gemini telescopes are the best suited to provide—because of the amount of access that the community has or the particular characteristics of the telescopes or sites. Similarly, identify the optimum capabilities for non-federally-funded telescopes through which access might be provided to the broad community through programs like TSIP.
  4. Provide a set of recommendations to guide the formulation of the U.S. position on Gemini, with particular attention to the expected transition in 2012 to a new international agreement. These recommendations should cover items such as number of nights the community needs on 6.5 to 10m telescopes, future instrumental capabilities, operations modes, access to archived data, and types of user support. The recommendations should also address processes for ensuring a strong link between Gemini capabilities and the interests of the U.S. community, taking into consideration the nature and constraints of the international partnership.
  5. Provide a set of recommendations to guide federal activities aimed at expanding the system of large telescopes using TSIP or other mechanisms. These recommendations should cover the same areas as those for Gemini.