In Memoriam: Morley Bell (Oct. 7, 1937 – Feb. 24, 2023)

Morley passed away peacefully at The Ottawa Hospital, General Campus, in Ottawa on February 24, succumbing to Parkinson’s disease. He is survived by his partner of over fifty years, Pierre (Peter) Brault, his brothers Mervyn (Iris) and Glen (late Shirley), his niece Marcia Bell, and his nephews Daniel (Leanne), John (Lisa), and Tim (Linda). He is predeceased by his parents Melville Bell and Irene Bell (née Wylie) of Coldwater, Ontario.

Born in Coldwater, Morley spent his formative years on his family’s farm in the neighboring area. Later, he studied at the University of Western Ontario and undertook his graduate studies at the University of Toronto. Morley then moved to Ottawa where he began his career as a radio astronomer at the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics at the National Research Council of Canada. His work took him to major observatories around the world, including a year at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh; Hilo, Hawaii; Greenbank, West Virginia, and others.

Throughout his career, Morley, in collaboration with colleagues, authored a substantial number
of scientific papers that were published in major science journals. A notable contribution was in
the detection of the largest molecule known at the time of the discovery. Morley remained
passionate about astrophysics both during his career, and in retirement, where he continued his
research at the National Research Council.

As well, after he retired, Morley took up violin-making, a hobby inspired by his background in
physics. Over the years, he made about thirty instruments, many of which are now in the hands
of appreciative musicians.

Special thanks to the staff in the emergency ward and in ‘8 West’ at the General Hospital, for
their care and compassion during Morley’s last days. Special thanks also to staff at Champlain
LHIN and at Carefor for their valuable in-home assistance earlier.

Burial will be at the Hobart Cemetery, Oro-Medonte in late spring. At Morley’s request, there will
be no funeral.

Surveys 2 Discoveries workshop in Montreal from May 16-18, 2023

The coming decade is bright for optical/infrared surveys! The Ultraviolet Near Infrared Optical Northern Survey (UNIONS) is well on its way to covering its goal of over 5000 square degrees of the sky, and it will provide ugriz images to the Euclid Space Telescope. Euclid is itself set to launch from Cape Canaveral in summer 2023.  The Vera C. Rubin Observatory will begin science operations in 2024 and the Cosmological Advanced Survey Telescope for Optical and uv Research (CASTOR) is being developed for launch in the late 2020s. Canadian astronomers are at the forefront of these current and future surveys. Some key challenges for Canadian astronomers are determining the best ways to gain access and significantly engage with these large international surveys as well as the methods to process, analyse, store, and share the increasingly large and complex data sets. The Surveys 2 Discoveries (S2D) workshop will focus on the Canadian science of these surveys and building critical mass in Canada to make discoveries with these data. The three-day workshop will focus on talks by scientists actively engaged in the survey collaborations, data analysis methods and pipelines, and results and forecasts from the surveys. In addition, there will be collaboration meetings for each of the surveys on separate days of the meeting. Afternoons may include science tutorials or hack sessions to get acquainted with the data products, formats, and analysis methods. Registration and abstract submission is now open until March 15, 2023. We especially welcome abstracts and tutorial proposals from Canadian students and postdoctoral researchers doing and planning science with these optical/infrared surveys.

Applications Open for LEAPS 2023

We are now accepting applications for the Leiden Observatory/ESA ESTEC Astrophysics Program for Summer Students (LEAPS) 2023. LEAPS is open to university students of any nationality not enrolled in a PhD program. In 2023, LEAPS will run in-person for 10 weeks from June 5 to August 11. Please visit the LEAPS website to learn more:

The deadline to submit application forms and reference letters is February 20, 2023.

Please feel free to drop us an email at with any questions you may have regarding LEAPS.

Canada Takes Huge Step to Sustaining International Leadership in Astronomy Canada announces intention to pursue full membership in the SKA Observatory

January 24, 2023 (OTTAWA) – The Federal Government’s announcement today that Canada will pursue full membership in the Square Kilometer Array Observatory (SKAO) is a generational decision to cement this country’s international leadership position in astronomy.  It secures a leading Canadian role in one of the largest scientific projects in human history, while delivering hugely impactful benefits for Canadian astronomers, universities and industry.

“The SKAO will be the world’s most powerful radio telescope, and Canadians have been involved in its conception and design from day one.  Therefore, on behalf of the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy, I want to thank Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne for Canada’s decision to pursue full membership in the SKAO.  This is a decision that will have impacts for generations,” stated Don Brooks, Coalition Co-Chair and Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA).

The international project includes 16 partner countries, and will combine almost 200 dish-shaped radio telescopes together in South Africa, and connect over 100,000 low-frequency antennas in Australia.  SKA construction began in June 2021 and should be complete by 2029, with the earliest science operations beginning mid-way through construction. The SKA will also have data centres around the world, including one in Canada based on today’s announcement.

“Canada’s global leadership in astronomy is closely tied to our coalition approach, in which scientists, universities and industry work together to identify the projects that will keep Canada at the forefront of this field.  The SKA has been at the top of that list for radio astronomy for two decades.  For the professional astronomy community, this is an incredibly exciting day.  This announcement will deliver enormous scientific discoveries that Canadians will read about for decades to come,” stated Christine Wilson, Coalition Co-Chair and President of the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA).

“To maintain and attract the top research and student talent, Canadian universities need access to the world’s best facilities.  For astronomy, this means partnering in multi-country projects like the SKA.  With today’s announcement, Canadian universities are in an excellent position,” added Brooks.

While scientific excellence is the primary factor driving the Coalition’s work, Canadian industry has always been a partner, recognizing that next-generation astronomy facilities can only be built with highly skilled expertise in design, engineering and construction – all areas where Canada has enormous strength.

“Canadian industry has a long history of providing the skilled labour and highly specialized, technical engineering required for next-generation global astronomy facilities like the SKA, which leads to spinoffs across a range of industries.  Today is not only a win for Canadian science, but also great news for the economy and the Canadian companies that will supply critical components of the project,” added Guy Nelson, President and CEO of Dynamic Technologies Group and Coalition Co-Chair.

The Coalition looks forward to sharing the discoveries that emerge from the project.

“The SKA will transform our understanding of the history, contents, extreme conditions, and prospects for life in the Universe,” said Kristine Spekkens, Canadian SKA Science Director and Professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen’s University.  “The science that the SKA will enable is well-aligned with the expertise of Canadian astronomers, who will be at the forefront of many of its ground-breaking discoveries. This decision marks the beginning of an exciting new era for Canadian astronomy.”

The SKAO shares the Coalition’s goal of advancing equity, diversity and inclusion, while also providing opportunities to nurture the next generation of scientists and engineers. A key part of SKAO’s mission is delivering benefits to society as it constructs and operates its cutting-edge radio telescopes. These include building respectful and positive partnerships with Indigenous and local communities at the remote telescope sites through the lifetime of the facility, a priority shared by the Canadian astronomical community in its 2020-2030 Long-Range Plan.

“Announcements like today’s are generational in terms of their impact.  On behalf of all Canadian astronomy stakeholders, we offer thanks to Minister Champagne and everyone else in the Federal Government who worked on this,” concluded Wilson.

About the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy

The Coalition is composed of:

  • Academia: represented by the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA) and its 20 members;
  • Professional astronomers: represented by the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA);
  • Industry: represented by Canadian companies involved in major astronomy projects.

The Coalition is united behind the Long-Range Plan for Astronomy and Astrophysics (LRP), a decadal plan first launched in 2000 and renewed in 2010 and 2020, with a view to sustaining Canada’s international leadership in astronomy.  The LRP process, backed by Coalition support, has created a legacy of success, with astronomy consistently ranked as Canada’s top science and Canadians at the forefront of this field globally.

Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) Update

By / par Pat Hall (MSE Management Group Member)
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2022)

A search was conducted this fall for a new MSE Project Scientist. Negotiations with the top candidate are expected to be concluded in time for the candidate to virtually attend the CFHT Board and MSE MG meetings in early December. A search for an MSE Project Manager is to begin imminently, with a goal of hiring as early as January 2023.

The overarching news at this time is an adjustment of the MSE project as a result of the newly legislated Mauna Kea Stewardship and Oversight Authority. MKSOA will be responsible for granting new leases on Maunakea. Because the transition to MKSOA will last until 2028, meaning that any site renewals for Maunakea will not come until at least 2028, MSE construction realistically cannot start until the early 2030s.

Given these facts, the Project Office has presented to the CFHT SAC and Board a two-component plan consisting of parallel work on development of the MSE proper and on an MSE-Pathfinder instrument for CFHT. The following two-component plan is still subject to change pending CFHT Board approval and MSE management group feedback, but it is appropriate to share a snapshot of it with the community at this time.

The proposed next step for MSE development is a trade study and down-select of telescope configurations (original MSE, 2-mirror with 2.75x more fibers, or 4-mirror with 4.27x more fibers), followed by establishment of a cost estimate and technically-paced schedule for the chosen configuration. All that can safely be said at this point is that the increased capabilities of the 2- or 4-mirror configurations (including larger collecting areas) will come with added costs.

The MSE-Pathfinder instrument is proposed to reduce technical risk by demonstrating on-sky the science capabilities of MSE’s primary subsystems and principal software platform while producing shared science data products for the community. It is envisioned as a scientific capability for timely spectroscopic follow-up on targets-of-opportunity (TOOs) detected by existing and upcoming high-profile facilities such as Vera C. Rubin Observatory’s LSST alerts for time domain and transient targets. In addition, MSE-Pathfinder will utilize MSE’s Program Execution System Architecture framework to validate the envisaged software platform to execute survey planning, scheduling, targeting and fiber allocation, data reduction pipelines, database management, science products archive, and “data-lab” science platform.

MSE-Pathfinder is proposed to use moderate-resolution optical spectrographs fed by fibers from one of two systems: 1) a prime-focus MOS of ~1000 fibers; 2) a large-format IFU sharing the Cass Bonnette with VISION (a common feed for SPIRou and ESPaDOnS), enabling rapid switching between those three instruments.

MSE-Pathfinder will explore analytical and design choices for MSE, such as:

  • Sky subtraction for fiber-fed spectroscopy at Maunakea site
  • Efficient scheduling software for combined survey programs
  • Waveband splitting and pupil splicing outside of the spectrographs with the goal of simplifying the spectrograph design and enable efficient industrialized spectrograph production
  • Validation of anti-reflective nano-coatings as an emerging technology for astronomical instrumentation

The proposed timeline for a call for participation in MSE-Pathfinder is early 2023.

Meanwhile, an NSF ATI funding proposal has been submitted to explore an innovative wavelength splitting and pupil slicing pre-optics module design developed by Sam Barden. Each module splits spectrograph input into separate wavelength channels (blue, green, red, J, H) feeding single-channel spectrographs, and slices the telescope pupil to decrease the input pupil size representative of a smaller telescope aperture. The pre-optics modules can be located near the telescope focus to shorten the fiber length of the blue sensitive spectrograph channels to optimize throughput. The wavelength splitting replaces large dichroics from the spectrographs with smaller ones in the pre-optics modules. The pupil slicing lessens technical risks with spectrograph design. Although more spectrographs are required, the pupil sliced instruments should take up less overall volume than the unsliced versions. The tradeoff is the need to operate many more detector systems. The pre-optics modules will enable modularization in design, manufacturing, assembly, alignment, and installation resulting in a cost-effective spectrograph system that is compact, space efficient, and compatible with the higher degree of multiplexing desired enabled by the 2- and 4-mirror telescope designs.

Last but not least, Canadian proponents of WFMOS (Wide-Field Multi-Object Spectroscopy) have submitted a CFI proposal to obtain funding for a targeted set of preliminary design needs widely applicable to all potential 10-meter-class WFMOS facilities, including but not limited to MSE. Proposal co-leads are Pat Hall (York) and Solomon Tesfamariam (UBC). Funding news is expected in early 3Q 2023.

ALMA Matters


By / par Brenda Matthews and Gerald Schieven (NRC)
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2022)

ALMA Targeted in Cyberattack

On the morning of Saturday, October 29, ALMA was targeted by a cyberattack on its computer systems, forcing the suspension of astronomical observations and the public website. The threat was contained, and the attack did not compromise the ALMA antennas or any scientific data. A Crisis Management Team at the Joint ALMA Observatory developed a full-recovery plan in consultation with cyber security officers from ESO/NAOJ/NRAO. The recovery timescale includes the ambition to resume observations by the end of 2022. PIs impacted by the interruption in observations will be contacted once systems operations return. ALMA users should monitor the Science Portal (and emails to the CASCA exploder) for updates to observing schedules and the upcoming Cycle 10 Call for Proposals. An announcement is expected the week of 19 December about the restart of observations.

ALMA Publications

Astronomers from Canadian institutions continue to hit above their weight when it comes to ALMA publications. The attached figure shows the number of ALMA publications from 2012 through 2021 (blue bars), the number of publications with a Canadian first author (orange bars), and the fraction of publications with Canadian first authors (orange line) and with a Canadian in the author list (grey line). Canada funds about 2.7% of the global budget for ALMA, yet well over 3% of publications feature a Canadian first author. In 2021, 17% of all papers had a Canadian author. By early December, there were 368 ALMA publications in 2022.

ALMA Primer Instructional Videos

Radio interferometry, including with ALMA, is a complex and often non-intuitive field. Like the ALMA introductory document, Observing with ALMA – A Primer, the ALMA Primer Instructional Video Series is designed to provide a basic introduction to radio interferometry, calibration, imaging, and other topics in brief (5-15 minutes), bite-size pieces. In addition, short (<1minute) extracts of some of these videos are available to use when teaching or in presentations. The series is a work in progress; new videos are added periodically.

The ALMA Primer Instructional Video Series will soon be available from the ALMA Science Portal. The videos are also available from the ALMA Primer YouTube Channel. Subscribe to be alerted whenever new videos are added!

NRC is Building the Next Generation ALMA Correlator

As part of an overall ALMA2030 vision, ALMA has engaged in the Wideband Sensitivity Upgrade (WSU) project. The WSU will initially double, and eventually quadruple, ALMA’s system bandwidth and will deliver improved sensitivity by upgrading the receivers, digital electronics and correlator. The WSU will afford significant improvements for every future ALMA observation, whether it is for continuum or spectral line science. At its November 2022 meeting, the ALMA Board approved a key aspect of the WSU, construction of the ALMA TALON Central Signal Processor (AT.CSP) at a projected cost of 35.9M USD, including contingency and commissioning. The AT.CSP design leverages nearly a decade of R&D work at NRC-HAA’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory to develop the SKA-mid Correlator/beamformer (CBF). This next generation correlator for ALMA will double the current (dual-polarization) 8 GHz instantaneous bandwidth of ALMA, with a path forward to double it yet again. In addition, AT.CSP will allow up to 1.2 million channels to be sampled simultaneously, enabling high spectral resolution to be achieved across the observable band width. The AT.CSP will be a joint NRC-NRAO project, with the former focusing on the hardware and the latter the software. The AT.CSP project is expected to start in January 2023 and be completed in a little over five years. Excitingly, this success means Canada will be responsible for providing correlators for the world’s three most prominent radio interferometers, i.e., the Jansky VLA, the SKA-mid, and now ALMA. In addition, the ALMA Board in November approved construction of Phase 1 of the new Data Transmission System (DTS) that will relay from the ALMA antennas to the correlator the large amounts of data resulting from the WSU. The DTS is a joint North America-East Asia project that will be completed in 2.5 years.

More information about the correlator upgrade can be found in Carpenter et al., 2022, ALMA Memo 621.

President’s Message

By Chris Wilson (acting CASCA President)
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2022)

The CASCA Board held two regular monthly meetings since my last report, as well as our semi-annual meeting in early December, which this year was two sessions of 4 hours each. Progress has been somewhat slower on some aspects of the Board’s Action Items list due to extended absences of both the President and the Secretary in November, which also resulted in the need to cancel our regularly scheduled November Board meeting.

On the committee and administration side, over the past 3 month, the Board has approved new Board representatives to the Ground-based Astronomy Committee (GAC), Long Range Plan Community Recommendations Implementation Committee (LCRIC), and Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC). We also approved new members for LCRIC and the CASCA-ACURA TMT Advisory Committee (CATAC). We also approved a request from the Awards Committee to move the deadline for nominations for 2023 awards to January 15, 2023. Individual Board members are also taking some Indigenous Awareness Training by working to complete the course “4 Seasons of Reconciliation” offered by Reconciliation Education.

The Board met with several members of the Westar Subcommittee of the Education and Public Outreach (EPO) Committee at our regular meeting in September. Our discussions focussed on the recommendations in their report, particularly around the potential to hire an EPO coordinator and what funding could be available to support such a hire. We identified the need to determine how much annual funding is expected to be available for Westar programs, a discussion that is complicated somewhat by the recent economic turmoil affecting investments in general. The Board expects to conclude its review of the Westar finances and to be in a position to pass some more concrete information along to the Westar subcommittee early in the new year.

The Board dealt with a number of requests from the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and IAU members related to membership transfer, inactive members, deceased members, and new applications for IAU membership. Unfortunately, a couple of requests to apply for IAU membership came in too close to the December 15 deadline to be dealt with before the IAU’s application portal closed. If you missed applying for IAU membership this year (which is free to individuals), please watch for an announcement in fall 2023. For the Digital Research Alliance of Canada (formerly Compute Canada), we have identified Catherine Lovekin (chair of CASCA’s Computation and Data committee) as the second CASCA contact for DRAC. This helps ensure that emails from DRAC are not missed, and that a person with more expertise in this area than your current President is available to attend DRAC meetings.

On the financial side, the Board approved an extra increase for the CASCA administrator’s salary for 2023. This supplemental increase of 2.5% is in recognition of the fact that inflation in Canada is running much higher than in past years. The Board also approved financial support for the annual Canadian Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CCUWiP), which is being held in person for the first time in 3 years at the University of Regina. Finally, starting in January, the Board will be actively contacting CASCA members who are 1 year in arrears with their dues.

Regarding the CASCA website, we had a glitch in mid-November that was linked to our website being moved to a new IP address. Apologies to anyone who was impacted by this problem (which of course happened over a weekend!), and thanks to our webmaster, Don Hutton, for fixing it promptly once it was identified. Vice-President Adam Muzzin has been taking the lead on updating parts of the website that had gotten out of date. The 2022 award winners should now all be up to date on both the French and English sides, as should the committee members. If you spot any further missing information, please let Adam or me know.

As required by our By-Laws, a list of the Board positions that will be open for election at the 2023 June Annual General Meeeting (AGM) was sent by the Board to both the Nominating Committee and to the general CASCA membership. There will be 3 open positions: 2 for Director and 1 for President. Please consider standing for election yourself or encouraging other good candidates to stand. Suggestions can be sent to Rob Thacker, who chairs the Nominating Committee, or via the nomination form to the CASCA secretary, Rob Cockcroft.

Just as a reminder, the next CASCA AGM will be held June 12-15, 2023, in Penticton, B.C. Over the next 6 months, the Board will be looking for an institution to host the subsequent AGM in spring of 2024.

There has been big news for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) over the last two months. SKA1-Low will be located on the traditional lands of the Wajarri Yamaji, who have lived there for tens of thousands of years. On November 5, 2022, the Wajarri celebrated the registration of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement for the SKA-Low site. Construction commencement ceremonies were held in both South Africa and Australia on December 5, 2022 to mark the official start of construction. In Canada, the absence of any news about the SKA in the government’s Fall Economic Statement was not unexpected. For more information, please see Kristine Spekken’s article in this issue.

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) has now been accepted into NSF’s queue for Large Facilities (known as MREFC), and so NSF’s Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the TMT has begun. The PDR is an important gateway that must be passed in order for the project to proceed to the final design phase, which includes a full cost review, firm governance model, and site selection. A final design review is expected to take place roughly 18 months after the PDR. In additional news, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that it will require formal consultation with the Native Hawaiian Community. Within Canada, CATAC has advised that Canada not host the Science Forum proposed for 2023, that had been delayed for a couple of years due to the pandemic, but recommends Canada host it in the near future, pending a return to more normal travel conditions and a successful NSF review. For more information on these and other issues, please see Michael Balogh’s article in this issue.

Finally, the Canadian Coalition for Astronomy has had a quiet few months, aside from filing a pre-budget submission for the October 8 deadline, which included recommendations for both SKA and the proposed CASTOR space telescope. For more information CASTOR, please see the article by Pat Côté in this issue.

I want to close by noting members of our community who have been honoured elsewhere. Congratulations to: Daryl Haggard (McGill), who has been awarded the 2022 Rutherford Memorial Medal in Physics from Royal Society of Canada (RSC); Ue-Li Pen (CITA and University of Toronto), who has been elected a Fellow of the RSC; Nick Cowan (McGill) and Renée Hložek (University of Toronto), who has been elected to the College of New Scholars of the RSC; and the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) team, who have been awarded the Brockhouse Canada Prize for Interdisciplinary Research in Science and Engineering from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Wishing you all a good break over the holidays and a smooth start to the next semester,


Update on CASTOR

By / par Patrick Côté, John Hutchings (NRC Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre)
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2022)

International partnerships in the CASTOR mission continue to develop. In October, the UK Space Agency approved the submission of a formal funding proposal targeting several aspects of CASTOR involvement by the UK; that proposal is under review, with the results expected later this month for work to begin in early 2023. The ISRO APEX advisory group met in November to review a proposed a joint mission study with CSA; a de-briefing of that meeting is expected soon. The JPL detector group continue their work on detector development towards the expected delivery of QE-enhanced detectors for testing in Canada early next year. Additional, less-defined ideas are also being pursued with NASA, Spain, and others. When formalized, any agreements will be detailed in the mission approval and funding request to the Canadian government for a Canadian led mission, in late 2023.

In September, ACURA formally approved CASTOR as a mission they will support as a national facility. This development will be noted in their discussions with Government as part the Coalition for Canadian Astronomy, together with CASCA and Industry.

The full mission definition (Phase 0) study continues to make good progress with detailed interactions between the international science team and the industrial contractors. This work will culminate in May next year. The technical development contract will continue through 2023, involving industrial contractors and NRC-HAA.

For more information on the mission, see here.

CATAC Update on the Thirty Meter Telescope

By Michael Balogh (CATAC Chair)
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2022)

Site Update

On July 7, with Act 255 the Governor of the State of Hawai’i signed bill HB2024 into law, establishing a new Authority responsible for managing Mauna Kea lands.  There will now be a transition period of up to five years, before authority is fully transferred from the University of Hawaii to this new body.  The Authority consists of 11 voting members, listed here.  The selected representative of the Mauna Kea Observatories is Rich Matsuda of Keck Observatories.

In October 2022, the Department of the Interior announced that it will require formal consultation with the Native Hawaiian Community, and is developing new policies and procedures to “further affirm and honour the special political and trust relationship between the United States and the Native Hawaiian Community”.

The TMT construction permit on the alternate site, Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (ORM) had been revoked following a successful appeal by the environmental group Ben Magec.  The TMT International Observatory (TIO), Instituto de Astrofisica (IAC) and the Cabildo (local government body) appealed this decision.  This appeal was successful, meaning TMT once again has legal right to construct on ORM.

Partnership Update

On July 16, the National Science Foundation (NSF) issued a notice of intent to proceed with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Section 106 processes.  Four scoping meetings were held on the Big Island, to receive feedback on the process.   Both written and oral testimony was provided to the visiting panel.  More information about this process can be found here.

The US Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP) has now been accepted into the Large Facilities (MREFC) queue and, with this, the NSF’s Preliminary Design Review (PDR) has begun.  This will consist of two phases.  The first phase, focused on technical readiness of TMT, is underway now and will be completed by the end of 2022.  In early January 2023, the programmatics (governance, operations etc) will be reviewed, together with the GMT and NOIRLab component of the US ELTP. The PDR is an important gate that must be passed if the project is to proceed to the Final Design phase.  The Final Design Review (FDR) would take place about 18 months after the PDR, and would include a Final Cost Review, for which a firm governance model and site selection would be required.

Technical Developments

In preparation for the NSF review, the SAC was asked to assess an evaluation of 59 possible descope options, that together amount to about 10% of the project cost.  The identification of descopes is an NSF requirement and part of good project management – it does not mean that there is a current expectation that any of these will need to be realised.  The most significant of these proposed descopes is a decrease of the primary mirror diameter to 25m, either permanently or with an upgrade path.  The SAC agreed with the evaluation that this would be the most negatively impactful descope, and should only be used as a last resort.  It would be strongly detrimental to adaptive optics performance and long-term competitiveness with ELT.

Although much of the technical development work has slowed across the partnership, significant work is ongoing.   At HAA, key components of the TMT AO system NFIRAOS (the CMOS sensor that will be used for the wavefront sensor, and the real-time controller) were demonstrated on sky using the DAO 1.2m telescope.  The results were impressive, achieving a 0.30” FWHM with 36% Strehl.  HAA is also testing new deformable mirrors and other components useful for GIRMOS (Gemini), which is a pathfinder for a similar IRMOS instrument on TMT.

Meetings and Consultations

For several years we have been looking forward to hosting the next TMT Science forum in Canada.  However, it became clear that due to both lingering COVID travel restrictions and partner funding limitations, such a meeting held in person would not likely achieve a broad participation from across the partnership.  This means the meeting would be unlikely to achieve one of its most important goals, which is to establish and build international teams especially around instrumentation.  CATAC therefore recommended that Canada should not host an in-person Forum until this situation changes, and after there is more clarity about the future of the project following the NSF review.

The TMT International Observatory and the TMT Science Advisory Committee recently announced a webinar series starting this December.  The first webinar will be “Thirty Meter Telescope: project updates and call for ISDT membership”. There will be a 50 minute presentation describing the project status, including site updates and a 10 min presentation from the SAC on the call for ISDT membership.  The total time, including a Q&A session, will be 1.5h. The webinar will be held at two times: Monday Dec 19 at 21:00 PST and Jan 18, Wednesday at 14:00 PST.  Registration is required, via the link here.

CATAC Membership

Michael Balogh (University of Waterloo), Chair,
Bob Abraham (University of Toronto; TIO SAC)
Stefi Baum (University of Manitoba)
Laura Ferrarese (NRC)
Harvey Richer (UBC)
Jason Rowe (Bishop’s)
Kim Venn (University of Victoria)
Luc Simard (Director General of NRC-HAA, non-voting, ex-officio)
Don Brooks (Executive Director of ACURA, non-voting, ex-officio)
Christine Wilson (Acting CASCA President, 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)

Report from the LCRIC

By Sharon Morsink (LCRIC chair)
(Cassiopeia – Winter 2022)

The Long Range Plan Community Recommendations Implementation Committee (LCRIC), formed in 2021, has the mandate to implement the recommendations from the 2020 Long Range Plan (LRP) related to the community of astronomers in Canada. The community recommendations include land and consent, Indigenous relations, trainees, equity and inclusion, sustainability, education, and public outreach. Many of these topics have official CASCA committees devoted to them. LCRIC’s role is to liaise with these committees to make progress on recommendations. In addition, our goal is to address issues that do not specifically fall under the purview of an existing CASCA committee.

In Fall 2022, and continuing into 2023, LCRIC’s focus is on topics related to trainees and Indigenous relations. The CASCA Postdoc Committee has been working on several initiatives related to postdoc recruitment and professional development. LCRIC has met with the Postdoc Committee and provided feedback on some of these projects. In particular, we have agreed upon a document (authored by the Postdoc Committee) that provides a set of best practices when recruiting postdocs. This document is under review by the CASCA Board and will be shared in the future when approved. The Postdoc Committee is also working on a demographics and working conditions survey, and both LCRIC and the Equity & Inclusivity Committee have provided feedback. We have also discussed the merits and possible forms of a mentoring program. However, the creation of a mentorship program is a non-trivial project and will be a priority in future years. Several other ideas that the Postdoc Committee has discussed with LCRIC will also benefit graduate students. For instance, the Postdoc Committee is interested in creating a “CASCA Cohort” that will take online courses on topics of mutual interest, such as machine learning.

LCRIC is collaborating with the SKA to organize two webinars on the partnerships between the SKA and Indigenous peoples and local populations in Australia and South Africa. The webinars are meant to help CASCA members understand the process of engagement with local populations in both countries. For more details read the SKA Update in this issue of Cassiopeia. You will see an announcement on the CASCA email list in early 2023 with information about how you can participate in the webinars.

Another recommendation that LCRIC is addressing this year is the recommendation to create an Indigenous Engagement Committee. LCRIC started working on this about a year ago under the leadership of Laurie Rousseau-Nepton. We will continue working on the details of the terms for this committee in winter 2023.

CASCA members who would like to provide feedback to the LCRIC can contact the LCRIC Chair, Sharon Morsink.