4MOST All Hands Meeting 2020
by Joe Liske on 2020-10-12
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.