Alan Bridger (UK Astronomy Technology Centre, STFC), Stewart Williams (UK Astronomy Technology Centre), Stewart McLay (UK Astronomy Technology Centre), Andy Biggs (European Southern Observatory), Marcus Schilling (European Southern Observatory), Rodrigo Tobar (European Southern Observatory), Rein Warmels (European Southern Observatory)
On 30th March 2011 the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) announced the Call for Proposals for its first observing cycle (Cycle 0). Cycle 0 is part of ALMA's ′Early Science′ observing whereby a subset of antennas, receivers and commissioned observing modes are made available to the community while the observatory is still being constructed and commissioned.
As part of the announcement the ALMA Observing Tool (ALMA OT) was made available for the first time to prospective ALMA users. On 1st June our server-side software was made available and submissions opened. The submission deadline passed on 30th June, with over 900 proposals to use ALMA submitted from ALMA OT users, a probable over-subscription factor of approximately 9. There was of course the last minute submission rush, and including proposal resubmissions (allowed by Observatory policy) there were over 1100 submission attempts in the last hour.
The ALMA OT is the tool used to create proposals (Phase I) to use ALMA, and will also be used to create the observing programs (Phase II) for successful proposals. In parallel it is being used as part of the ongoing ALMA commissioning campaign.
This paper describes briefly how the ALMA OT tackles the problem of making millimeter/submillimeter interferometry accessible to the wider community, while allowing ′expert′ users the power they need, the intelligence behind the user interface, and the support provided to the technical assessment process. We will then move on to describe the lessons learnt from Cycle 0 submissions and finally we will look ahead to the challenges presented by the Cycle 1 period, when more of ALMA's capabilities will be made available to the community and the ALMA OT must keep this much more complex and powerful instrument easy to use.
Slides in PDF format
Paper ID: O10