Report from the LCRIC

By Chris Wilson (LCRIC chair)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2021)

The Long Range Plan Community Recommendations Implementation Committee (LCRIC) has continued to meet weekly over the summer. We also participated in a joint meeting with Luc Simard, Gilles Joncas, Greg Sivakoff, Kristine Spekkens, and Michael Rupen, who are some of the Canadian leaders in the SKA project. We heard a presentation from Luc Simard about how the SKA project approached the process of gaining consent from local communities in Australia and South Africa.

The LCRIC held several discussions, including one with Rob Thacker and Hilding Neilson, regarding the plans and scope for an Indigenous-focused panel discussion with leaders in the Canadian astronomical community. The current plan is for this panel discussion to take place in November.

The LCRIC continued to work on plans for community consultation and education through a series of three webinars (called “Town Halls” in our previous report) to take place this fall. The first of these webinars, with a tentative title “Including Indigenous approaches in astronomy education”, will be held in October. The goal of this webinar will be to educate CASCA members on some specific actions that they can take to embrace Indigenous approaches to astronomy education in their classes. The second webinar will focus on the theme of inclusion and the third webinar will focus on the theme of land and consent.

The LCRIC is beginning work to identify concrete actions from the LRP2020 recommendations concerning Indigeneity that we can recommend to astronomical organizations such as ACURA and the CASCA Board. We will also be meeting with additional CASCA committees, such as the EPO committee, to discuss LRP2020 recommendations in their area of interest in the coming months.

The LCRIC recognizes that transparency and consultation are very important as our community moves forward to implement the recommendations of the LRP. We will be seeking input from a diversity of perspectives, recognizing that astronomy and astronomers exist with a broader societal context. We welcome feedback and comments at any time, via the Public Discussion page or by email to one of the LCRIC members. Communications will be kept confidential if requested.

CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope

By / par Michael Balogh (CATAC Chair)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2021)

Recent News

The future of the TMT project is strongly linked with the recommendations of the anticipated US Decadal Review (Astro2020). Should the US-Extremely Large Telescope (US-ELTP) program be the top-ranked priority in that review, there will be an opportunity for the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to become formally involved. The Project has been preparing for the Preliminary Design Review that would follow – this would be a thorough review of all aspects of the Project. The delay to the release of Astro2020 means this Review, and subsequent activities, are correspondingly delayed. The current estimate for publication of Astro2020 is Fall 2021.

On Aug 23, the TMT International Observatory (TIO) was informed that its land concession on La Palma had been cancelled by the Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Canarias. This was the result of an appeal by an environmental group called Ben Magec, who had also successfully appealed the first land concession in 2019. This outcome was not anticipated, and appeals to the ruling are being considered.

TMT Science Forum

The next TMT Science forum is being planned for June 26-29, 2022 at UBC in Vancouver. However, with the delay to the release of Astro2020, and the remaining uncertainty around travel restrictions in the near future, the possibility of delaying this meeting until 2023 is being considered.

CATAC Membership

Michael Balogh (University of Waterloo), Chair, mbalogh@uwaterloo.ca
Bob Abraham (University of Toronto; TIO SAC)
Stefi Baum (University of Manitoba)
Laura Ferrarese (NRC)
David Lafrenière (Université de Montréal)
Harvey Richer (UBC)
Kristine Spekkens (Royal Military College of Canada)
Luc Simard (Director General of NRC-HAA, non-voting, ex-officio)
Don Brooks (Executive Director of ACURA, non-voting, ex-officio)
Rob Thacker (Acting CASCA President, non-voting, ex-officio)
Kim Venn (TIO Governing Board, non-voting, ex-officio)
Stan Metchev (TIO SAC, non-voting, ex-officio)
Tim Davidge (TIO SAC Canadian co-chair; NRC, observer)
Greg Fahlman (NRC, observer)

Update on CASTOR

By / par Patrick Côté, John Hutchings (NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2021)

Work has continued under the space technology development program (STDP) contract with ABB and Honeywell. The detector choice for the study has been decided and sensors are now being procured from e2v. The delivered large-format sensors will be used to prototype the mosaic arrays needed for CASTOR. Separate detectors will be tested for performance after doping and coating by JPL; this will include the measurement of read-noise, dark current and QE by HAA at the University of Calgary vacuum facility that was used for the Astrosat/UVIT mission. Joint work on optical and mechanical aspects are also continuing between HAA and IIA in Bangalore. The optical design has moved forward with attention to packaging, baffling, moving parts, and overall volume. The next stage of the work underway is on the performance and testing of the Fast Steering Mirror that CASTOR will use for fine tracking. Technical meetings are being held as needed and there are biweekly meetings with the contractors and CSA.

September 9 marked the deadline for Phase 0 industrial proposals. Proposal review and evaluation will take place in the coming weeks; it is expected that a contract will be awarded soon afterwards. In parallel, a science Statement of Work will be delivered by a university-based science team, to be organized by HAA. Logistic details are still being formulated but the science development activities are expected to be carried out in parallel with the industrial Phase 0 work. Those interested in participating should get in touch with us now (core team members have already been contacted). It is expected that the Phase 0 science team will also include some members of partner teams in India, JPL, and the UK.

A university-led CFI proposal continues to be developed to fund and operate a detector lab for post-Phase 0 development of the mission.

In order to exchange technical details as the major partnership with ISRO develops, a permit is being drawn up to enable this collaboration, as required by the Export Control rules for satellites. In the meantime, meetings and correspondence between CSA and ISRO are proceeding as best they can.

The Coalition for Canadian Astronomy have submitted their pre-budget memo to the government as usual, and CASTOR is explicitly mentioned, along with the expected international partnerships. Until the general election is over, no actual meeting will occur with the government, and the path forward will depend on the detailed outcome of the election.

Overall, progress is happening on several fronts, and CASTOR remains on track to fulfil the requirements for flight approval in 2023.

For more information on the mission, see here.

ngVLA Update

By Erik Rosolowsky (U Alberta), Joan Wrobel (NRAO)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’Automne 2021)

Figure caption: Artist’s conception of ngVLA antennas at the current site of the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array on the Plains of San Agustin in west-central New Mexico. Credit: Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

NSF Awards Funding for ngVLA Antenna Development

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) $23 million for design and development work on the Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA), including producing a prototype antenna. The ngVLA, a powerful radio telescope with 263 dish antennas distributed across North America, is proposed as one of the next generation of cutting-edge astronomical observatories.

The ngVLA will include 244 antennas that are 18 meters in diameter, with an additional 19, 6-meter dishes at the centre of the system.

The ngVLA project currently is under review by the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey (Astro2020) of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. That report is expected this autumn. Following that report, the project will need approval by the NSF’s National Science Board and funding by Congress. Construction could begin by 2026 with early scientific observations starting in 2029 and full scientific operations by 2035.

On May 27, NRAO officials signed an agreement with the firm mtex antenna technology GmbH of Germany to develop a production-ready design and produce the prototype 18-meter antenna. Once built, the 18-meter prototype will be installed at the site of NSF’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) in west-central New Mexico, where it will undergo extensive testing.

Building on the scientific and technical legacies of the VLA and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the ngVLA will have sensitivity to detect faint objects and resolving power more than 10 times greater than the current VLA. It is being designed to address fundamental questions in all major areas of astrophysics and provide a major leap forward in our understanding of phenomena such as planets, galaxies, black holes, and the dynamic sky. The ngVLA’s capabilities will complement those of ALMA and other planned instruments such as the lower-frequency Square Kilometer Array.

The ngVLA’s design is the result of extensive collaboration with researchers across the landscape of astrophysics. Through a series of workshops and science meetings beginning in 2015, NRAO worked with numerous scientists and engineers to develop a design that will support a wide breadth of scientific investigations over the lifetime of the facility. Participants from around the world – including Canada – contributed suggestions and expertise that helped guide the design.

See the NRAO press release for additional information.

Chemical Probes of Astrophysical Systems

The NRAO and the ngVLA project will convene a Special Session titled Chemical Probes of Astrophysical Systems on January 13, 2022, at the winter American Astronomical Society meeting. This Special Session will highlight recent scientific breakthroughs in astrochemistry. It will feature invited oral presentations plus contributed poster presentations. If you are attending this meeting and presenting a relevant poster, you can apply to this special session. Special Session presenters are also eligible to present elsewhere at the meeting.

ngVLA Summer Short Talk Series

Recordings from a weekly ngVLA Summer Short Talk Series that ran June through August 2021 are available online. Each presentation addressed open science questions and their connection to present and future observing facilities at all wavelengths. An audience Q&A session accompanied each presentation. The presenter lineup included 2019 Plaskett Medal winner Alexandra Tetarenko and was organized by the ngVLA Science Advisory Council.

Figure caption: Artist’s conception of ngVLA antennas at the current site of the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array on the Plains of San Agustin in west-central New Mexico. Credit: Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

No More Academic Pipelines: Rethinking Inclusion in Astronomy

By / par Hilding Neilson (David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto)
(Cassiopeia – Autumn / l’automne 2021)

One of the goals for academia and astronomy, specifically, is to build greater inclusion for Indigenous peoples. This is clearly illustrated in the Long Range Plan 2020. While the goal is clearly discussion, it is not obvious what inclusion of Indigenous people would be and how it might occur. In this brief article, I will discuss what Indigenous inclusion could be and how the astronomy community in Canada can approach the process. This discussion is based solely on my own experiences in academia as a Mi’kmaw astronomer.

There is a popular metaphor for discussing the lack of inclusion of people (women, BIPOC, etc.) that is one of a leaky pipeline. In this metaphor, the pipeline is usually the academic path and the leaks are people that fall out of the system for various non-academic causes. It has been recognized that the metaphor is problematic for many Indigenous peoples because of the politics of physical pipelines on Indigenous lands. Across Turtle Island, Indigenous peoples have been burdened by the growth and demand for pipelines carrying bitumen, oil, and natural gas. This burden is done on purpose because pipelines do leak and engineering these pipelines is designed to have acceptable losses through leaks that will pollute and damage the land and water. This is why we see companies try to build pipelines across Indigenous Nations instead of across Settler communities.

Even though the leaky pipeline analogy is offensive, it is also an apt analogy to describe issues with inclusion in the academy, in science, and in astronomy. It is just not apt in the way most people use it. A pipeline carries material that was ripped from the land, transported thousands of kilometres. The material that leaks pollutes the land and water along the path of the pipeline. Whatever makes it to the other end of the pipeline is burned for the benefit of those with money and power. That is the issue of the pipeline: it is not built to support the material transported but to assimilate the content in ways to support the consumer and the capitalist. This pipeline describes inclusion in academia and it supports those in power instead of diverse people.

This analogy also illustrates the challenges for inclusion of Indigenous peoples because it is built on assimilation and colonization. Astronomy can continue focus on inclusion in this way and it is entirely possible that the number of Indigenous people in academia could grow. But, from experience, this system requires a lot of sacrifice and contributes harm to Indigenous peoples in the field, especially when being Indigenous is inconvenient for those in power.

Instead of assimilation and colonization as inclusion, we should work towards a system of inclusion that centers Indigeneity instead centering Settlers and Settler needs. We have seen examples of the latter in the past few years from how the discussion of the Thirty-Meter Telescope has evolved and the inappropriate responses of a number of Canadian Astronomers (see article here) to incidents at the annual meeting of CASCA (see here). Just these two examples show that there is a lot of work to do to build an inclusive environment. So far the Canadian Astronomical Society has done no work beyond inviting speakers to discuss Truth and Reconciliation and Residential Schools and then promptly moving on and forgetting. Spending an hour listening is not action and is not inclusion. Inclusion involves change and action. To that end, I would like to suggest a model for inclusion of Indigeneity in astronomy.

This model for inclusion is built around three themes: Land, Knowledges, and Persons. These three themes should be considered together and not isolation. Being inclusive of Persons requires actions that create space for Indigenous people in academia and in STEM. This is consistent with the traditional view of inclusion in academia. Being inclusive of Knowledges is about creating stuff for Indigenous astronomy stories and methods in research and education in an equitable way and being inclusive of Land requires understanding where we live and work and our relationships on colonized lands.

These three themes cannot be considered in isolation. Being inclusive of Persons while ignoring Land and Knowledges is assimilation and being inclusive of Knowledges while ignoring Land and Persons is simply appropriation. Both issues are widely understood to be harmful and clearly the Astronomy community should avoid these issues, but it does not always do so. For instance, job advertisements and interviews risk focusing too much on only being inclusive of Persons. In my experience, I have been invited to interview because the committee wanted to be inclusive of Persons, and then arguably rejected because they did not want to be inclusive of Land and Knowledges.

Being inclusive of Land is a more challenging discussion, especially with the Canadian obsession with Land Acknowledgements. However, being inclusive of Land while ignoring Persons and Knowledges is erasure and dispossession. One example of this is seen in the history of place names. Across Canada names are largely based on english and french terms, Settlers who considered important, and names to honour Europeans places such as London, New Berlin,New Paris, etc. All of these names are designed to erase Indigeneity from the land. Even Indigenous names such as Toronto are built on erasure and the superficial reminder that it based on the Haudenosaunee word Tkaronto. One might argue Land Acknowledgements to counter this narrative and are inclusive, but simply noting we work on traditional homeland of certain nations is not change and is simply a tool to assuage Settler guilt. This is especially true if the Land Acknowledgements do not come with commitments for learning, inclusion and decolonizing. The issue of being inclusive of Land becomes more challenging when we ignore Indigenous Knowledges and Person because that inclusive become Colonization.

In the end, Indigenous inclusion is about building relationships with all three aspects: Land, Persons, and Knowledges. This is not an easy thing for academics and astronomers to do, given how much we have benefited from centuries of colonization, assimilation and appropriation and how much we continue to do so. We continue to benefit through the infrastructure and telescopes we build, through the patronage of donors, through the appropriation of the language of colonization in the fight against bright satellites. We continue to benefit when agencies such as NSERC focus on demographics through the Dimensions program or when PromoScience panels fund Settlers to deliver science content to Indigenous communities. We need new models for Indigenous Inclusion.

The Long Range Plan 2020 recommends the formation of two committees that greatly impact Indigenous inclusion: one for Indigenous people and one on land usage. It might be noted that the committee on land usage is important for both Indigenous lands and non-Indigenous lands, most if not all of the ground-based facilities discussed in the LRP report are on Indigenous lands. These committees will have significant influence on the future of astronomy in Canada and on Indigenous inclusion in astronomy. These committees will almost certainly have very little Indigenous representation since there are so few Indigenous people in Canadian astronomy and committee service is voluntary. As such all change will depend on the goodwill and intentions of settlers and based on experiences in the past few years that goodwill is varies significantly across Canadian astronomy and is very conditional on the interests of astronomers. For instance, will Canadian astronomy place Indigenous rights and inclusion over the desire for the Thirty-Meter Telescope on Maunakea as there is no clear consent?

What are some ways to build Indigenous Inclusion? I suggest here three concepts:

  1. Develop protocols for consent of land usage that centers Indigenous rights and methods for issues of usage and environmental impact. As part of those protocols, if consent is not readily available then accept that and cease fighting Indigenous peoples.
  2. Invite and equitably fund Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers to share and lead outreach and education initiatives in astronomy and science. We need to build and nurture relationships with committees and support Indigenous-centered learning over our traditional Western methods.
  3. Fund and equitably support Indigenous scholars to teach and conduct research in Canadian Physics and Astronomy departments that center and uplift Indigenous methods and concepts. I am not aware of any institution in Canada that currently does this, but I am aware of numerous that either center Settler educators in teaching Indigenous knowledges or just treat Indigenous Scholars inequitably.

These are just three quick ideas and is not meant to be complete in any way. There are more recommendation in various Long Range Plan Community Papers and US Decadal Survey papers. Furthermore, as relationships grow then recommendations and needs will also evolve so actions are truly limited to location and time. But, it is time for Canadian Astronomy to take steps of action along with continuing to listen. I do not believe that the Canadian Astronomy community as a whole is capable of taking ethical and inclusive actions to support Indigenous peoples today, but we are capable of changes that will make CASCA and Canadian Astronomy more inclusive in time for the next Long Range Plan, but we have to start now. The time for only listening is over.

Agence spatiale canadienne – AOP Suppléments au Programme BP 2021 du CRSNG

Dans le cadre de son engagement à soutenir le développement de la prochaine génération de professionnels du secteur spatial au Canada, l’ASC offrira, par l’entremise de son Avis d’offre de participation (AOP) « Suppléments au Programme de bourses postdoctorales (BP) de 2021 du Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada (CRSNG) », des subventions à des chercheurs postdoctoraux qui auront obtenu une bourse postdoctorale du CRNSG dans le cadre de son Programme de bourses postdoctorales. Les chercheurs postdoctoraux doivent être impliqués dans un projet de recherche prometteur qui est aligné et qui contribuera aux priorités décrites dans la Stratégie spatiale pour le Canada.

Résumé des informations clés :

  • Financement total disponible (2021) : 100 000 $
  • Nombre et valeur des subventions : Jusqu’à cinq (5) suppléments d’un montant de 20 000 $ chacun seront octroyés.
  • Bénéficiaires admissibles : Être citoyen canadien ou résident permanent du Canada, être boursier postdoctoral et mener un projet de recherche sous la supervision et le mentorat d’un chercheur plus expérimenté dans un établissement d’enseignement canadien ou un autre institut de recherche approprié au Canada; avoir obtenu et accepté une bourse postdoctorale du CRSNG, dans le cadre de l’appel de propositions 2021 du Programme de bourses postdoctorales du CRSNG (voir la remarque dans la section 3 de l’AOP).
  • Date limite de soumission d’une demande : 7 janvier 2022

’ASC invite les chercheurs postdoctoraux intéressés par cette opportunité à soumettre une demande pour un supplément de subvention à travers l’AOP de l’ASC.

Vous pouvez consulter l’AOP « Suppléments au Programme BP du CRSNG » et obtenir les instructions permettant de présenter une demande en cliquant ici.

Laurin, Denis (ASC/CSA)

Appel de Demandes de Temps pour GEMINI 2022A et temps d’échange SUBARU

L’appel de demandes de temps pour Gemini 2022A a été lancé, et les informations spécifiques aux demandes canadiennes se trouvent à:

https://nrc.canada.ca/index.php/fr/recherche-developpement/produits-services/services-techniques-consultatifs/gemini-informations-specifiques-au-canada-phase-i

La date limite est: le VENDREDI 1er OCTOBRE 2021, à 16h00 (HAP)/19h00 (HAE)

Ce semestre le Canada aura accès à 188 heures à Gemini-Nord et 192 heures à Gemini-Sud. Veuillez considérer la soumission de programmes avec des conditions météo assouplies, adéquats pour la Bande 3, même s`ils prendront plus longtemps à exécuter pour atteindre le même signal-sur-bruit.

Quoi de Neuf pour 2022A:

  • VEUILLEZ NOTER: Le Canada a maintenant adopté un processus d’examen par les pairs en double aveugle (EPDA) pour les demandes pour ce semestre 2022A. Veuillez suivre les consignes du EPDA pour rédiger une demande anonyme (voir le lien dans l’appel ci-dessus). Cela s’applique à toutes les demandes, même celles qui ne sont pas dirigées par une Canadienne, alors assurez-vous d’avertir votre PI.
  • Le mode d’Observation Prioritaire pour Visiteur et le mode Classique seront offerts pour le semestre 2022A pour Gemini-Nord, mais non pour Gemini-Sud. Cela pourrait changer selon l`évolution de la pandémie de COVID-19. Les usager.es sont encouragé.es à s`inscrire au mode d`Écoute à Distance (Remote Eavesdropping) disponible pour tout programme en mode queue.

Pour le semestre 2022A (1er février 2022 au 31 juillet 2022) les instruments disponibles sont pour Gemini-Nord: GMOS-N, GNIRS, NIRI, NIFS, et Altair. Les instruments visiteurs sur Gemini-Nord sont: GRACES, ALOPEKE, POLISH-2 et MAROON-X.

Et pour Gemini-Sud les instruments offerts sont: GMOS-S, Flamingos-2, and GSAOI + GeMs; et les instruments visiteurs Zorro et IGRINS.

Un minimum garanti de 5 nuits classiques seront disponibles sur Subaru. Tous les instruments sont offerts: AO188 (mais pas LGS-AO), FOCAS, HDS, IRCS, et Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC). Plusieurs instruments visiteurs seront aussi disponibles, veuillez consulter l`Appel. Les demandes doivent être pour des demi-nuits ou nuits entières, sauf HSC qui accepte les programmes en mode queue.

Bonne chance!

Stéphanie Côté,
Office Gemini Canadien, CRHAA, CNRC

Invitation for Canadians to join the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA)

The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is the precursor of SKA-Low and is a powerful science facility in its own right (see http://mwatelescope.org for details).

The MWA’s particular attributes include:
– wide frequency range (70–300 MHz) with flexible tuning
– a very wide field of view (hundreds of square degrees)
– high angular resolution (several arcminutes)
– extreme (digital) pointing agility

MWA phase 2, which has improved the sensitivity of the array by an order of magnitude, is now operating. A further upgrade, MWA phase 3, is in the planning stages.

The MWA is an international collaboration, with partners from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, India, Canada and the United States. Canada is a full member of the MWA project, with representation on the MWA Board.

Canadian astronomers who wish to join the MWA Consortium and to consequently gain access to MWA data, software tools and science collaborations should contact Bryan Gaensler (bryan.gaensler@utoronto.ca) by Friday, September 3rd, 2021.

IAU et une brève mise à jour

Chers membres de la CASCA,

J’aimerais apporter une brève mise à jour concernant quelques sujets :
Tout d’abord, les sessions de la XXXIe Assemblée générale (AG) de
l’Union Astronomique Internationale (UAI) se dérouleront en ligne au
cours des 10 prochains jours. Bien que j’assisterai aux principales
sessions de travail au nom de la communauté canadienne, j’ai pensé
porter à votre attention le fait que le mardi 24 août, à 15h00 CEST, il
y aura une session pour discuter des nouvelles Résolutions de l’UAI qui
feront l’objet d’un vote par voie électronique par les membres
individuels et juniors, entre le 26 août et le 10 septembre 2021. Les
résolutions sont les suivantes :

  • Résolution B1 en faveur de la protection de la radioastronomie
    géodésique contre les interférences radio
  • Résolution B2 sur l’amélioration des théories et modèles de rotation
    de la Terre
  • Résolution B3 sur le cadre de référence céleste Gaia
  • Résolution B4 sur l’utilisation d’un système photométrique standard
    en astronomie ultraviolette (UV)

De plus, j’ai reçu un petit nombre de courriels demandant des précisions
concernant les démissions au sein du conseil d’administration de la
CASCA. Comme je l’ai indiqué dans la réponse initiale du conseil
d’administration, je suis présentement tenu par la confidentialité et je
suis absolument certain que vous comprendrez que je ne me permettrais
pas une violation éthique en ces circonstances. Étant donné les
circonstances difficiles, en tant que président je prends très au
sérieux mon devoir d’attention envers tous les membres de la société et
je tiens à réitérer ma demande sincère d’éviter toute spéculation. Bien
que nous ne puissions pas discuter ouvertement des événements récents,
cela ne signifie pas que rien ne se passe, et je peux dire que je pense
que nous avons fait quelques progrès au cours des derniers jours. Je me
dois de vous prévenir qu’une discussion plus ouverte des événements
récents ne pourra se faire avant un certain temps et j’en appelle à
votre patience. C’est la fin de l’été et de nombreuses personnes
impliquées sont en vacances.

Je vous remercie tous pour votre patience et votre compréhension, et je
vous souhaite à tous un bon semestre d’automne,

Rob