The first 4MOST Low-Resolution Spectrograph (LRS-A) has now reached “first light” (or first spectra) in the CRAL integration hall in Lyon, France. These first exposures were taken through the blue channel. The most important parameters – image quality, wavelength range and spectral resolution – are all very close to those necessary to meet our goal of doing world class astrophysical research. The LRS opto-mechanical design preforms well, giving us confidence that similar performance will be achieved when assembling the green and red channels of LRS-A, and the second LRS.
Florence Laurent, the head of engineering at CRAL: “I am happy to say that the first arm of LRS-A has been integrated and aligned and we succeeded in making the first exposures. Most importantly, the blue channel already performs close to its scientific and technical specifications. I would like to express my sincerest thanks to the team, Karen Disseau, Jean-Emmanuel Migniau, Didier Boudon, Diane Chapuis, Eric Daguisé, Aurélien Jarno, Arlette Pécontal, Johan Richard, and Alban Remillieux, all of whom overcame many challenges to reach this milestone.”
Matthew Lehnert, the director of CRAL, added: “It’s wonderful to see these results and imagine the exciting scientific results and breakthroughs we will be capable of making with this extremely capable instrument. Without the hard work of the dedicated team at CRAL, imagining these goals would not even be possible. Thank you to everyone for their hard work!”
On 15 December 2020 the 4MOST consortium and the ESO community successfully submitted their proposals for ESO Public Surveys to be carried out with 4MOST during its first five years of operations. While the consortium submitted 10 proposals for its guaranteed time (corresponding to the 10 Consortium Surveys), the community submitted 18 proposals to compete for the “open” time available to the community.
The proposal submission marks the culmination of many months of preparation. The community proposals were invited by ESO following a pre-selection based on Letters of Intent previously submitted by the community in February 2020. While honing their own proposals over the past months, the 4MOST Science Team also supported their colleagues in the ESO community to get ready and plan for the exciting scientific opportunities offered by 4MOST, e.g. by organising two workshops. The proposal submission thus represents yet another major milestone for the 4MOST project and the Principal Investigator, Roelof de Jong, would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work and strong commitment.
ESO’s Public Survey Panel (PSP) will now review all proposals received and judge the community proposals in terms of their complementarity and possible synergies with the Consortium Surveys before recommending the final, joint 4MOST Survey Programme.
The 4MOST High-Resolution Spectrograph (HRS) has now reached “first light” (or first spectra) in the Landessternwarte (Heidelberg) lab for the green channel with an engineering grade detector. This is not only a major and exciting milestone for the project in general, but it also means that for the first time we have real HRS data to work with after many years of working with simulated data. It is also a validation of many aspects of the 4MOST opto-mechanical design, which allows the project to move forward with the remaining MAIT activities with increased confidence.
Walter Seifert (HRS Lead Engineer) reports: “The basic alignment of the channel with regard to wavelength range, image quality and spectral resolution has been performed in two days without any issues. Further iterations on optimising the performance will be done with the actual science detector in place. Nevertheless, the spots are already in or close to specification. Apart from flatfield and spectral arc exposures using the lab calibration unit, we also took a spectrum of the sun by holding an auxiliary fibre out of the window towards the sky.”
Roelof de Jong (4MOST PI) commented: “I am very excited to see these first spectra from the High-Resolution Spectrograph. It is wonderful to see that within a few days of effort the team is already meeting most specifications. This gives great credit to the many excellent people involved from across the consortium: the HRS team of course, but also the detector and control hardware teams, the fibre team, and now the data management system team. I want to thank them all for their dedicated efforts.”
The 4MOST Wide Field Corrector (WFC) and Atmospheric Dispersion Corrector lenses have been manufactured and tested at KiwiStar Optics, New Zealand. These are large lenses that represent a significant part of the overall hardware budget for 4MOST. The Project Manager, Joar Brynnel, is pleased to report that five of the six WFC lenses have just arrived safely at the UCL laboratory, where they will be integrated with the WFC mechanics and aligned with high precision in order to meet their tight specifications. The sixth lens is still at KiwiStar in the final stage of manufacturing. It is a great relief for the project that the lenses have arrived without damage. Peter Doel (UCL) reports: “The crates have arrived safely and are under lock and key in the lab. No external shock indicators were triggered and there was no visual damage of the boxes. We very briefly (and without taking them out of the boxes) did a visual inspection of the lenses before resealing them. The lenses look fine.”
The science programme of 4MOST is driven by its individual Surveys, each pursuing different science cases. Currently, there are ten such Surveys to fill the Guaranteed Time Observations of the Consortium, each under the leadership of one or more Survey Principal Investigators (PIs). After 10 years of serving as Survey co-PI of the Milky Way Halo Low-Resolution Survey (S1), Prof. Amina Helmi has unfortunately decided to resign from this position. The 4MOST Project is very grateful for her leadership since the start of the project and for bringing the Survey to its current excellent state together with her S1 co-PI Prof. Mike Irwin. Amina is looking forward to seeing data arrive in a few years’ time and will remain involved in the further development and exploitation of the Survey. We wish Amina all the best for her other endeavours and the responsibilities she has taken on.
Fortunately, Amina’s resignation will not leave a vacancy. The Project is extremely pleased that the 4MOST Executive Board has approved the nomination of Prof. Else Starkenburg as the new co-PI of the Milky Way Halo Low-Resolution Survey at its meeting on 15 October 2020. This is expected to be a fairly smooth leadership transition, as Else already served as one of the co-PIs of S3, the Milky Way Disc and Bulge Low-Resolution Survey (4MIDABLE-LR), in the past, and is hence already familiar with the required background. While Else will remain active within 4MIDABLE-LR, its leadership is now in the hands of the remaining S3 Co-PIs Dr. Cristina Chiappini and Dr. Ivan Minchev.
The Project would like to thank everyone involved in this transition for the excellent leadership provided so far, and is looking forward to the continued collaboration toward the final development of the survey programme, science operations and data exploitation.
The 4MOST Consortium came together on 05 – 09 October 2020 for its sixth annual All Hands Meeting (AHM). Originally planned to be held at ESO in Garching, the ongoing Corona pandemic forced the event to be held entirely online.
The AHM brought together consortium members working to define, construct, operate and scientifically exploit the 4MOST Facility. This included the engineers, managers and scientists responsible for the delivery of the 4MOST Facility, the scientists planning the science operations in the infrastructure working groups, and the scientists from the large number of institutes involved in defining the ground-breaking consortium science surveys.
From a project management perspective, the project is generally in good shape. Funding for hardware is secured and a moderate contingency is available. The hardware budget has seen only a minor increase of about 2% over the past year. As already reported in this news channel, the project has incurred a schedule delay of 9 months as a result of Covid-19, this delay was however expected and is comparable to delays in other projects. It was noted that the three parts of the project (Facility, Operations, and Science) continue to be well synchronized schedule-wise. Sustained travel restrictions due to the pandemic means that many activities such as progress meetings and acceptance testing have to be re-cast into a remote format. The project risk register was updated during the AHM, some risks could be retired, and several risk indexes were updated.
On the facility side of the project, a particular focus of the meeting was to discuss and coordinate subsystem and system integration activities. The thrust of discussions was distinctly different from that of the past AHM, showing that we are making progress towards the system testing phase at the AIP. Substantial effort has gone into preparing the AIP infrastructure for carrying out the system-level testing between now and Preliminary Acceptance Europe (PAE).
The Operations Development Group (ODG) used the AHM to make progress in two essential directions. In the area of observation preparation, the front-end, new simulations run with the 4MOST Facility Simulator (4FS) were presented and discussed extensively. As more functionality is added to the 4FS discussions tackled both possible tweaks to the survey strategy and the surveys’ target catalogues, as well as the development and understanding of algorithmic solutions to on-going issues. Concerning the overall data flow, ODG is currently running Operational Rehearsal 2, designed to run most pipelines for the first time on simulated-real data. All pipelines showed their current products. Discussions revolved around the necessary improvements in each pipeline to make those products “not-wrong”, or, in other words, good enough to be sent onward to the next pipeline, while not necessarily being correct in all aspects yet. Other discussions at the AHM revolved around ways to add more resources to some struggling work packages, as well as closing the formal loop on operations requirements.
The meeting’s programme can be found here.
An announcement from the Project Manager, Joar Brynnel:
On 22 – 24 September 2020 a meeting between the 4MOST project and ESO was held at the AIP in Potsdam. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the updated System (Optical) Alignment Plan and the Focal Surface Test Tools (FSTT) Design Report and associated action items. Those documents were formally reviewed at the 4MOST delta-FDR in January 2020, a review which resulted in some action items that were classified as critical. This meant that the delta review was not formally closed, which by extension meant that the Final Design Phase was not closed.
ESO, in the meeting represented by Jeff Pirard and Stephane Guisard, determined that the documents have now been substantially improved, and that most of the critical action items could be closed. At the end of the meeting a statement was made by ESO management that the 4MOST Final Design Phase is now officially concluded. While it is recognized that most subsystems have been in the MAIT phase for some time already, it is nevertheless an important milestone for the project overall. Many thanks to everyone involved in making this happen!
An announcement from the Project Manager, Joar Brynnel:
As with numerous other projects, the restrictions caused by Corona did not leave 4MOST unscathed. In spite of diligent efforts we have incurred schedule delays, not the least for engineers and technicians working on site in integration facilities. In addition, we have experienced numerous delivery delays from vendors and manufacturers. In aggregation, this has led to an updated top-level schedule with the following new dates: Preliminary Acceptance Europe (PAE) is now scheduled for October 2022 (delayed by 8 months), while Preliminary Acceptance Chile (PAC) is now scheduled for August 2023 (delayed by 9 months).
Consortium members can download the updated top-level schedule from DocuShare.
On 9 – 14 July 2020, ESO and the 4MOST consortium jointly organised the second 4MOST community workshop Planning for 4MOST: toward the 4MOST survey programme. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the workshop was held entirely online.
Following ESO’s request for “Letters of Intent for Public Spectroscopic Surveys” (LoIs) from the ESO community, and the review of the submissions by ESO’s Public Survey Panel (PSP), the successful teams have been invited to submit a detailed proposal in December 2020. The purpose of this workshop was to support the teams behind the successful LoIs in preparing their proposals, and to facilitate a well-matched and efficient joint 4MOST survey programme.
In a total of 12 presentations, the 4MOST consortium provided the participants with up-to-date information on the 4MOST operations, survey strategy, available tools to prepare their proposals and data processing pipelines, while ESO described the further selection process. In turn, 19 successful LoI applicants presented their proposed community surveys, focusing in particular on their operational requirements.
A number of question and discussion sessions, as well as a dedicated slack workspace, provided the opportunity for the 210 registered participants to discuss and clarify any remaining issues, and to jointly prepare for the integration of potential Participating Community Surveys into the 4MOST Science Team.
An announcement from the Principal Investigator, Roelof de Jong:
I am very pleased to announce that the extragalactic leader of the Survey Strategy Infrastructure Working Group (IWG2), Peder Norberg, has been appointed to to the newly introduced position of Operations Scientist. The role of the Operations Scientist is to coordinate the development of the survey strategy for the 4MOST survey programme. This includes setting requirements to the 4MOST Operations Model to satisfy the scientific needs of the surveys in terms of survey strategy. It also includes a coordinating role in the development of the relevant software tools, in particular all modules of the 4MOST Facility Simulator, and in the running of relevant simulations. The Operations Scientist is therefore the bridge between the Survey Strategy IWG (and thus the science needs of the Survey teams), the Operations System, and the Operations System Engineers.
Please give Peder all your support in his new (and old) role.