Tasks of the IRAM ARC node
The IRAM ARC node shall provide user support services, including user formation (specialized schools) and face-to-face support (on the basis of the existing Plateau de Bure support). We will also be working on a number of new developments, aimed at developing or optimizing new observational or data reduction techniques. Finally, IRAM is also involved in a number of ALMA core activities, as the development of the telescope calibration software or the participation to the ALMA commissionning.
Until ALMA is operational, one of the main goal of the IRAM ARC node is to form and train new users to the millimeter-interferometry techniques. The Plateau de Bure interferometer is obviously a major asset to form future ALMA users, both technically and scientifically. IRAM is also organizing a series of millimeter-interferometry schools, that are taking place every two years since 1998.
Next event: the 6th IRAM millimeter-interferometry school will be held in Grenoble, October 6-10th 2008.
providing face-to-face support for data reduction will be one of the key activity of the IRAM ARC node. The system in place for more than 10 years for the Plateau de Bure interferometer will be extended to ALMA: each project will have a local contact, i.e. an astronomer who is expert in the instrument and data reduction software and available to provide support and help. The PI of the project will be encouraged to travel to Grenoble to spend a few days to reduce and analyse the data with his/her local contact. We still have to work out the organizational details.
Travel funding for astronomers visiting Grenoble will be available, following the same rules as the current ones for the Plateau de Bure: one trip, two people per project. Only scientists affiliated to the IRAM funding agencies are elligible for this financial support.
The face-to-face support shall be in place for the ALMA Early Science observations. The first call for proposal for the Early Science could be in the second part of 2010, with the Early Science observations starting end of 2010 or beginning of 2011.
Using as much as possible synergies with the Plateau de Bure interferometer, ALMA-related projects are and will be supported, aimed at developing or optimizing new observational or data reduction techniques. IRAM's expertise covers various aspects from calibration (millimeter data processing, atmopsheric calibration, phase correction using WVR, pipeline) or imaging (deconvolution techniques, mosaicing, short-spacings inclusion). Work on special observing techniques such as VLBI, astrometry, or polarimetry is also taking place in the institute.
Ongoing ALMA-related projects: (as of May 2008)
The IRAM ARC node intends to participate to the ALMA commissioning. Two astronomers from IRAM are joining ESO to integrate the Commissioning Team in Chile. Other astronomers will do short- to medium duration stays at the OSF to participate to the commissioning.
IRAM is developping software for ALMA, under contract with ESO. Strictly speaking, this is not part of the ARC, as it is funded by the construction budget of ALMA. We consider it however as a key activity to develop in-house expertise on the ALMA instrument and data processing software.