This is an update from your ESO Users Committee (UC) representative. My role is to represent Australian ESO Users and act as a capillary link between ESO and the Australian community.
Early in the year, the UC reported a generally high level of satisfaction from ESO Users on nearly all fronts based on our annual poll. User satisfaction with software tools is continuing to improve with the deployment of the new web-based Phase I tool and continuing improvements of other tools. Notable exceptions continue to be: (1) user satisfaction with the OPC feedback remaining polarised; and (2) issues with specific instrument pipelines. The user poll report is used to formulate recommendations presented to ESO at the annual meeting.
The ESO Users Committee met remotely on 29-30 April this year (overnight for Australia). You can view the agenda and certain publicly-available files, as well as the UC recommendations. ESO usually verbally responds to the UC recommendations by teleconference in December. The response to last year’s recommendations is not public, but ESO considered all recommendations and most have been acted upon. Those that could not be are still under consideration.
The special topic this year was “Time-domain astrophysics". The UC heard from 2 expert users (Susanna Vergani and Piergiorgio Casella) on their experience. Their presentations are linked from the agenda.
COVID19 impact: observatory shutdown and cancelled P107 call for proposals
I would like to thank the community for their swift response and generally positive outlook on the various impacts that COVID19 has had on ESO operations. First, ESO had to shut down its observatories in March and is only just now starting preparations to resume observations on some Paranal instruments (UVES and FORS2 only). The UC are still collecting reactions to this announcement and I welcome your input.
Furthermore, given the significant backlog in observations caused by the observatory shutdown, ESO has decided to cancel the P107 call for proposals. This decision triggered mixed feelings within our community. While most of you who reached out to me understood/supported this decision, many have also expressed concerns. I have passed on those concerns to ESO. Some also welcomed the respite from having to prepare and review proposals in what was sure to be an unusually competitive round.
Renewed 3-year term
The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources and ESO have extended my tenure as the Australian representative on the ESO UC for a second 3-year term. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued trust and support in my role as UC representative. It is thanks to continued feedback and involvement from our community on various ESO issues impacting Australian users that I am able to represent your interests.
If you experience technical issues using ESO data/facilities, the best place to get help is by emailing the ESO User Support Department.
With the P107 call-for-proposal cancelled, ESO will not be seeking new nominations for the OPC this round. That said, you may nominate someone or self-nominate at any time by contacting me directly. ESO requests that OPC nominees be on their 2nd postdoc or beyond. The ESO OPC nomination system requires me to include the top 3 OPC subcategories in order in the nomination. In addition, I may also include the nominee’s experience on ESO telescopes, their ORCID and the year of their PhD. As usual, if you have been nominated in the past, but haven’t been contacted by ESO yet, your name does stay in the system.
Finally, if you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to sign up for the ESO science newsletter.