ESO Science Newsletter March 2020
20 Mar 2020

This newsletter is a summary of recent ESO Science Announcement items. Follow the links or visit ESO Science Announcements to read more.

Science announcements

Impact of COVID-19 on ESO Proposal Submission Deadline

20 Mar 2020:

Given ongoing developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic, ESO is doing its best to guarantee that the proposal submission and review processes remain optimal within the restrictions imposed by this crisis. Since containment measures deployed in some of ESO’s Member States have disrupted scientific activities in those countries, the proposal submission deadline has been postponed from 26 March to 23 April 12:00 CEST. ESO will continue to follow developments closely and may provide additional updates regarding Phase 1 in the next weeks.

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ALMA Cycle 8 Call for Proposals Deadline Delayed Due to COVID-19

19 Mar 2020:

The ALMA Director, on behalf of the Joint ALMA Observatory and the partner organisations in East Asia, Europe, and North America, is pleased to announce that the ALMA Cycle 8 Call for Proposals for scientific observations opened on March 17. Users of any nationality or affiliation are invited to submit proposals. Please note that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the original deadline of 15:00 UT on 15 April 2020 has now been delayed to no earlier than 15:00 UT on 19 May 2020. As ALMA continues to monitor the conditions worldwide, it will assess the feasibility of this deadline and provide additional updates to the community as needed. The next update to the community will be provided no later than 21 April 2020 on the status of the call and the support for the scientific community.

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Impact of COVID-19 on ESO Operations

19 Mar 2020:

In response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic around the world ESO has been following the measures adopted by governments in Germany and Chile and closely observing the situation in other countries. Our highest priority remains the safety and wellbeing of all staff and visitors at ESO’s sites. To minimise the risk of infection the presence of staff has been significantly reduced at the observatories over the past week leading to a number of restrictions to the ongoing science operation. Over the coming weekend, the staff at the observatories will be further reduced to the minimal teams required to ensure the safety of the facilities and the remaining people on site.

As a consequence science operation will cease at all sites.

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ALMA Cycle 7 Observations Suspended due to COVID-19

18 Mar 2020:

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has spread to Chile, the ALMA Director has made the decision to suspend science operations with ALMA, effective immediately. This decision has been taken to protect the safety of ALMA staff, many of whom travel long distances by bus and by plane to reach the remote ALMA site in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile.

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ALMA Cycle 8 Call for Proposals: Dual-Anonymous Proposal Review Process

16 Mar 2020:

ALMA is strongly committed to ensure that the proposal review process is as fair and impartial as possible. Analysis of the proposal rankings in previous cycles has identified systematics that may signify the presence of biases in the review process (see Systematics in the ALMA Proposal Review Rankings). In an effort to reduce biases as much as possible, ALMA will use a dual-anonymous proposal review process starting in Cycle 8.

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Large Programme NTT Proposals in Periods 106 & 107

15 Mar 2020:

Due to recent developments related to SOXS at the NTT, Large Programme proposals will be accepted in Period 106 for SOFI runs in Period 106 and for EFOSC2 runs in Periods 106 and 107. Users should be aware, however, that these programmes may be terminated ahead of the expected time, depending on the progress with SOXS. This will be reviewed again ahead of the release of the Period 108 Call for Proposals.

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Postponement of Workshop: Ground-based Thermal Infrared Astronomy - Past, Present and Future

13 Mar 2020:

ESO Garching, Germany, 12–16 October 2020 

Following the spread of COVID-19 (the coronavirus), this workshop has been postponed from April to October and registration has been re-opened. All participants who registered for the original workshop should register again to confirm their attendance in October. More information about the workshop itself can be found below and via the workshop website.

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Data Release 4: Final Data Release of VIKING Survey

12 Mar 2020:

The VISTA Kilo-degree Infrared Galaxy Public Survey (VIKING, ESO Programme ID: 179.A-2005, PIs: A. Edge and W. Sutherland) is a wide area (covering a final area of 1350 square degrees), intermediate-depth (5-sigma detection limit J~21 on Vega system) near-infrared imaging survey, in the five broadband filters Z, Y, J, H, Ks. The sky coverage has maximum overlap with the Kilo-Degree Survey KiDS in the optical bands. This fourth and final VIKING data release covers all of the highest quality data taken during the survey to its completion and, when combined with the first three releases, includes all fields that met the team’s quality control thresholds in seeing (< 1.3”) and atmospheric transmission (thin cirrus or clearer).

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Data Release 5: ESO Public Survey VHS

11 Mar 2020:

The VISTA Hemisphere Survey (VHS, ESO Programme ID: 79.A-2010, PI R. McMahon) is a wide-area, multi-band, near-infrared survey, which when combined with other VISTA public surveys, will result in the coverage of the whole southern celestial hemisphere (declination < 0; 20 000 square degrees), to a depth 30 times fainter than 2MASS/DENIS in at least two filters (J and Ks), with a minimum exposure time of 60 seconds per filter and a median 5-sigma point source depth of AB = 20.8 and 20.0 in J and Ks filters respectively.

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Data Release 1: MUSE Library of Stellar Spectra

11 Mar 2020:

The MUSE Library of Stellar Spectra (Ivanov et al. 2019) provides the community with a set of 1D high signal-to-noise spectra with reliable continuum shapes, which populate all major sequences on the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, with 3-6 bright stars per spectral type. This first data release contains 35 high-quality MUSE spectra. These stars cover the following parameter space: effective temperatures between 2600 and 33000K, log(g) between 0.6 and 4.5, and  [Fe/H] from -1.22 to 0.55. The 1D spectra cover a wavelength range from 4800 to 9300 Angstrom, with a resolving power varying from 1750 to 3750 and, given the IFU spectral capabilites of MUSE, are not subject to slit losses.

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2020 ESO Users Committee Meeting & Poll

25 Feb 2020:

The Users Committee (UC) represents ESO's astronomical community at large and acts as an advisory body to the ESO Director General on matters related to the performance, scientific access, operation and user interfaces to the La Silla Paranal Observatory and ALMA. The annual meeting of the UC is scheduled on 29 and 30 April 2020. 

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Upcoming ESO or ESO-Related Workshops

  • COSPAR Capacity Building Workshop: Planetary Sciences Data Analysis
    Universidad Católica del Norte, Antofagasta, Chile, 20-31 July 2020

    The goal of the workshop is to develop interesting scientific projects guided by experts of missions as New Horizons, Juno, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, Hayabusa 2, MAVEN and representatives of Nasa's Planetary Data System and ESA's Planetary Science Archive.

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