28 February 2020 was the deadline for the ESO community to register their interest in using 4MOST by submitting Letters of Intent for ESO Public Surveys. At the same time, the 4MOST Science Team submitted ten proposals for Public Surveys to be carried out in the consortium's guaranteed time. This is 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 rank the Letters of Intent and select those which will be invited to submit full proposals. The PSP will then judge the community proposals in terms of complementarity and possible synergies with the Consortium Surveys before recommending the final, joint 4MOST Survey Programme.
On 11 February 2020, Alban Remillieux reported the delivery of the three cameras and collimator of the first Low Resolution Spectrograph (LRS-A) to CRAL.
On 24 January 2020, Walter Seifert reported that the first camera for the High Resolution Spectrograph (HRS) had safely arrived at the Landessternwarte in Heidelberg. This is the camera for the green HRS channel. The system is now being characterized and is subjected to a variety of incoming tests. Following these tests the camera will be integrated into the spectrograph and the field lens will be sent to AIP for mounting on the detector head.
During the initial 5-year period of 4MOST operations, 30% of the total available observing time will be available to the ESO community. The process of selecting the surveys to be executed during this time was kicked off by ESO on 26 November 2019 by issuing a Call for Letters of Intent for Public Spectroscopic Surveys with 4MOST (see also this announcement).
The submission deadline is 28 February 2020, 12:00 CET.
Note that letters of intent for 4MOST Community Surveys should be submitted in PDF format only to the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please consult the Call for Proposals webpage and the 4MOST Public Survey policies for more information.
On 21-22 October 2019 the Project Office (Brynnel, Giannone, Bellido, Frey, de Jong and Cesarini) visited the Landesternwarte (LSW) in Heidelberg to meet with the High Resolution Spectrograph (HRS) team for the project-internal Mid-Term Review (MTR). In addition to feeling the pulse of the work package, we visited the just completed new LSW integration hall. This impressive facility was built for the integration of HRS. In parallel, opto-mechanical units are integrated and tested in the adjacent optics clean room. The review itself went very well, and the Project Office left LSW with a very good impression. We noted that, just like for the LRS, the HRS schedule is heavily dependent on deliveries from optics manufacturers. Other than this no concerns were raised, and we are looking forward to the Local Acceptance Review scheduled for November 2020.
The 4MOST All Hands Meeting 2019 took place in Potsdam on 16 – 20 September 2019. The meeting was hosted by the 4MOST Project Office at the Leibniz Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP) and took place at Potsdam University's beautiful "Neues Palais" campus.
This fifth annual All Hands Meeting (AHM) of the 4MOST Consortium 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 in good shape, both financially and in terms of planning. Significant additional funding has been secured, and the hardware budget has remained remarkably stable. Major milestones have also been stable for the past 3-4 years. This is excellent performance for a project of this complexity and size! Of course, we have issues to deal with, but these are well identified and we are working diligently to mitigate the effects and to find solutions. Feedback from ESO regarding the AHM was remarkably positive, adding an outside perspective on how we are doing.
On the facility side of the project, a particular focus of the meeting was to add detail to the planning of the System Integration Phase. This phase, formally known as the Assembly, Integration, and Testing (AIT) phase, will take place at the AIP in the years 2020-2021. During this phase, all subsystems will be delivered to the AIP where system-level testing will take place. This is a complex process where high-level requirements and interfaces will be verified, including software. Steffen Frey, our AIT manager, said after the AHM: "The meeting was very useful for me to communicate the AIT planning and to receive real-time feedback from all our partners regarding important details".
On the scientific operations side of the project, discussions were centered on preparations for the Delta Call for Proposals Readiness Review, preparations for the Operational Rehearsals, the Consortium Survey Plan, as well as sharpening the requirements for the higher-level data products pipelines.
In addition, Andrea Merloni and Martin Roth presented highlight talks on the recently launched X-ray facility eROSITA and the latest developments in photonics for astronomical instruments, respectively.
The meeting's programme can be found here.
On 10 – 11 July 2019 the Project Office visited CRAL in Lyon to meet with the Low Resolution Spectrograph (LRS) team for the project-internal Mid-Term Review (MTR). This was the fifth MTR with more to follow. The purpose of this review is to assess the status of the work package – schedule, finances, product assurance, MAIT, interfaces, technical performance, and compliance matrix – approximately half-way between the Final Design Review and the Local Acceptance Review. The review panel (Brynnel, Giannone, Bellido, Frey, and Johl) concluded that the work package is in general performing very well, and no major issues were identified. During the mandatory lab visit, the review panel could see the two LRS optical tables assembled and integration and verification of the mounts for the optics in progress. ESO has already delivered the cryo-vacuum system and MPIA has delivered the control electronics. AIP will deliver three science-grade detectors in late July. The delivery of optics from various vendors remains on the critical path for the MAIT of the two LRSs. CRAL is actively monitoring these deliveries, and in spite of some delays the dates for the Local Acceptance Reviews of LRS-A and LRS-B were confirmed.
The Project Office would like to warmly thank the CRAL team for the excellent preparation of the LAR and for hosting us during the review.
Between 2019-06-21 and 2019-07-01, the 4MOST project visited the Paranal Observatory. The overall purpose of this mission was to verify the VISTA telescope interfaces, to hone the AIV plan, and to discuss technical issues with the relevant Paranal staff. The mission was quite successful, and all the items on the list could be checked off. The team, consisting of Jeff, Marco and Christophe from ESO, Michael from MPIA, and Steffen, Allar, and Joar from the AIP were able to witness the removal of the VISTA primary and secondary mirrors for re-coating. To this end the telescope top end plus VIRCAM with its cable de-rotator had to be removed, which allowed us to access all relevant interfaces and to make laser tracker measurements. In addition, the HRS and LRS interfaces were inspected and surveyed. We were able to present 4MOST and discuss the project with several Paranal staff members. Special thanks to Jeff and Christophe for their great support before and during the visit!
On 9 May 2019 the Local Acceptance Review (LAR) for the 4MOST Detector Systems was held at ESO in Garching. The LAR is the final official milestone for facility subsystems, where the hardware is formally accepted, compliance with requirements and (not the least) documentation is reviewed between the 4MOST Project Office and the delivering partner, in this case ESO. The 4MOST Detector subsystem encompasses not only the 9 science-grade CCDs in their dewars, but also readout electronics and the complete cryo-vacuum system. A spare science-grade CCD and two engineering-grade CCDs are also part of the deliverables.
The performance of the CCDs is excellent, exceeding requirements in almost all areas, and the delivery schedule is very well aligned with the rest of the project. During the LAR, Joar Brynnel stated on behalf of the 4MOST project that this has been a very successful collaboration, not only from a technical/performance perspective, but it has also been carried out in a very productive and collaborative spirit.
Jeff Pirard (ESO) added: "The LAR also gave the opportunity to warmly thank Jean-Louis Lizon, Gero Rupprecht and Roland Reiss, all three retiring in 2019. They have strongly contributed to the success of the 4MOST Detector System development. The Detector System LAR is a first step of 4MOST subsystem completion which shall open the path for system integration at AIP in the coming months. The project is moving forward. Science data are getting closer!"
On 6 – 8 May 2019, the workshop Preparing for 4MOST: A community workshop introducing ESO’s next-generation spectroscopic survey facility took place at ESO in Garching, Germany. It was organised jointly by ESO and the 4MOST Consortium to prepare the ESO community for the upcoming "Call for Letters of Intent for Public Spectroscopic Surveys with 4MOST" (currently planned for Q4 2019). This Call will represent the start of the process by which ESO will select the Community Surveys to be carried out in the 30% of the observing time of the first 5 years of operations that will be available to the community.
In a total of 17 presentations, the 4MOST Consortium provided the participants with up-to-date information on the 4MOST facility, its capabilities, survey strategy, data reduction and science pipelines, as well as the 4MOST Consortium’s scientific plans, while ESO described the application and selection process. The community, in turn, presented its ideas for Community Surveys in 16 talks, covering a wide range of scientific topics, from exoplanets, to stellar clusters, galaxy evolution, and AGN.
A number of question and discussion sessions provided the opportunity for participants to clarify any remaining issues, and to jointly discuss the connections between the scientific ideas presented by the community and the plans of the Consortium.
A full summary of the workshop is provided by Liske & Mainieri, 2019, The Messenger, 177, 61.