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 / par 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.

Cassiopeia Newsletter – Summer Solstice / solstice d’été 2021

summer

In this issue/Dans ce numéro:

President’s Message
ALMA Matters
BRITE-Constellation Mission Update
CanTAC and Dual-Anonymous CFHT, Gemini, and NEOSSat Proposals
Update on CASTOR
CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope
Canadian Gemini Office News / Nouvelles de l’Office Gemini Canadien
Report from the LCRIC
ngVLA Update
Report from the SKA


Editor: Joanne Rosvick

Cassiopeia is CASCA’s quarterly Newsletter, published on or near the solstices and equinoxes (March 21, June 21, September 21 and December 21).

To submit a contribution please email cassiopeia.editors@gmail.com. All submissions must be received at least one week in advance to be published in the next edition. I accept plain text and Word documents. Note that the formatting of your document will not be preserved. Please include any images as attachments in your email, not embedded in the text. Please include URLs in parentheses next to the word or phrase that you wish to act as link anchors.


Cassiopeia Newsletter – Vernal Equinox / équinoxe du printemps 2021

spring

In this issue / Dans ce numéro:

President’s Message
ALMA Matters
BRITE-Constellation Mission Update
Canadian Astronomy, Racism, and the Environment: Part 2
Update on CASTOR
CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope
Canadian Initiative for Radio Astronomy Data Analysis (CIRADA)
ngVLA Report
Report from the SKA


Editor: Joanne Rosvick

Cassiopeia is CASCA’s quarterly Newsletter, published on or near the solstices and equinoxes (March 21, June 21, September 21 and December 21).

To submit a contribution please email cassiopeia.editors@gmail.com. All submissions must be received at least one week in advance to be published in the next edition. I accept plain text and Word documents. Note that the formatting of your document will not be preserved. Please include any images as attachments in your email, not embedded in the text. Please include URLs in parentheses next to the word or phrase that you wish to act as link anchors.


Cassiopeia Newsletter – Winter Solstice d’hivers 2020

winter

In this issue / Dans ce numéro:

President’s Message
ALMA Matters
Atelier AstroComm 2021 Workshop Première annonce – First Announcement
BRITE-Constellation Mission Update
Canadian Gemini Office News / Nouvelles de l’Office Gemini Canadien
Update on CASTOR
CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope
Update from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) / Compte rendu de l’Agence spatiale canadienne (ASC)
DAO Telescope News
Graduate Student Highlights
News from the JCMT and Canadian Observing Opportunity
ngVLA Update
Long Range Plan 2020 / Plan à long terme 2020
LSST Canada Update
SKA Update
SPICA Update


Editor: Joanne Rosvick

Cassiopeia is CASCA’s quarterly Newsletter, published on or near the solstices and equinoxes (March 21, June 21, September 21 and December 21).

To submit a contribution please email cassiopeia.editors@gmail.com. All submissions must be received at least one week in advance to be published in the next edition. I accept plain text and Word documents. Note that the formatting of your document will not be preserved. Please include any images as attachments in your email, not embedded in the text. Please include URLs in parentheses next to the word or phrase that you wish to act as link anchors.


Autumnal Equinox / Equinoxe d’automne 2020

fall

In this issue:

President’s Report
ALMA Matters
BRITE-Constellation Mission Update
Update on CASTOR
CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope
Canadian Gemini Office News / Nouvelles de l’Office Gemini Canadien
Canadian Astronomy, Racism, and the Environment – Part 1
Indigenizing Astronomy – Long Range Plan / Plan à long terme 2020


Editor: Joanne Rosvick

Cassiopeia is CASCA’s quarterly Newsletter, published on or near the solstices and equinoxes (March 21, June 21, September 21 and December 21). To submit a contribution please email cassiopeia.editors@gmail.com. All submissions must be received at least one week in advance to be published in the next edition. I accept plain text and Word documents. Note that the formatting of your document will not be preserved. Please include any images as attachments in your email, not embedded in the text. Please include URLs in parentheses next to the word or phrase that you wish to act as link anchors.

Cassiopeia est le bulletin d’information de la CASCA, publié quatre fois par année, aux solstices et aux équinoxes (21 mars, 21 juin, 21 septembre et 21 décembre). Pour soumettre un article, écrivez à cassiopeia.editors@gmail.com. Les soumissions doivent être reçues au moins une semaine avant la parution. J’accepte les fichiers en format texte (ascii) et Word. Veuillez noter que la mise-en-page de votre document ne sera pas conservée. Veuillez faire parvenir vos images en pièces jointes à votre courriel plutôt que de les insérer dans votre article. Pour les liens à des sites internets, veuillez inclure l’adresse entre parenthèses à côté du mot ou de la phrase devant servir d’ancre.


Cassiopeia Newsletter – Summer Solstice / solstice d’été 2020

summer

In this issue/Dans ce numéro:

President’s Message
ALMA Matters
The Success of Astro at Home / Le succès d’Astro à la maison
CASCA’s New Sustainability Committee
Update on CASTOR
CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope
Conferences and Carbon Footprints
Graduate Student Highlights
Dr. Christian Marois awarded Guggenheim Fellowship
Long Range Plan 2020 / Plan à long terme 2020
Reflecting on Astronomy & Colonization in Canada: a new mini-course


Editor: Joanne Rosvick

Cassiopeia is CASCA’s quarterly Newsletter, published on or near the solstices and equinoxes (March 21, June 21, September 21 and December 21).

To submit a contribution please email cassiopeia.editors@gmail.com. All submissions must be received at least one week in advance to be published in the next edition. I accept plain text and Word documents. Note that the formatting of your document will not be preserved. Please include any images as attachments in your email, not embedded in the text. Please include URLs in parentheses next to the word or phrase that you wish to act as link anchors.


Cassiopeia Newsletter – Vernal Equinox / équinoxe du printemps 2020

spring

In this issue / Dans ce numéro:

President’s Report
ALMA Matters
CASCA Archives
CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope
Long Range Plan 2020 / Plan à long terme 2020
Report from the LRPIC
LSST Update
NameExoWorlds Contest


Editor: Joanne Rosvick

Cassiopeia is CASCA’s quarterly Newsletter, published on or near the solstices and equinoxes (March 21, June 21, September 21 and December 21).

To submit a contribution please email cassiopeia.editors@gmail.com. All submissions must be received at least one week in advance to be published in the next edition. I accept plain text and Word documents. Note that the formatting of your document will not be preserved. Please include any images as attachments in your email, not embedded in the text. Please include URLs in parentheses next to the word or phrase that you wish to act as link anchors.