e-News: June/July 2013




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Scientific Authorities Sign the TMT Master Agreement (July 25, 2013)

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project announces today that all of the scientific authorities of the TMT partners have signed a Master Agreement. The Master Agreement document establishes a formal agreement amongst the international parties defining the project goals, establishing a governance structure and defining member party rights, obligations and benefits.

TMT is a unique and vibrant collaboration among universities in the United States with institutions in the nations of Canada, China, India and Japan, and with major funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Uniting these various parties under a Master Agreement stands as a significant accomplishment for TMT as a scientific endeavor with global reach.

“The signing of this Master Agreement marks a major milestone in the official commitment to and formalization of this global collaboration, ensuring that the TMT project is on schedule and progressing smoothly,” said Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT Collaborative Board. “We have been working towards this moment for a long time and this is a special day for astronomy’s next-generation observatory.”

The Master Agreement brings together the TMT partners for the purpose of developing, designing, financing, constructing, commissioning, operating and decommissioning a next-generation, thirty meter-class astronomical observatory.

“We are pleased with this vote of confidence from the scientific authorities,” said Edward Stone, Vice Chair of the TMT Board. “Their signing of this Master Agreement is a key endorsement of TMT’s scientific merits as well as the project’s overall implementation plan.”

Looking ahead, the next step will be for the financial authorities of the partners to similarly sign the document and finalize the funding plan.

“With the scientific authorities now all on board, we welcome and look forward to the critical support of the remaining financial authorities in advancing the TMT project,” said Yang.

2013 has been a busy and successful year for TMT, and the signing of the Master Agreement is a major step forward in the creation of a revolutionary astronomical facility. Construction of TMT is planned to begin in April 2014 and TMT is scheduled to begin scientific operations in 2022 on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

Signatories of the Master Agreement:

The signatories of the Master Agreement are: Donald E. Brooks, Chair of the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA) Institutional Council; Jean-Lou Chameau, President of the California Institute of Technology; Masahiko Hayashi, Director General of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ); Dr. P. Sreekumar, Director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics; Jun Yan, Director General of the National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) and Mark Yudof, President of the University of California.

Statements from TMT Partners:

“ACURA is pleased to be a partner in signing the Master Agreement as Scientific Authority, and is currently engaged with the National Research Council to discuss moving the project forward for funding in Canada. TMT will be a vital resource for research in Canadian universities. It will deepen our knowledge of many of the major issues in astronomy & astrophysics in ways that would not be possible without such a new generation telescope,” said Ernie Seaquist, Executive Director of the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA).

“China is excited to be an active partner of such a world-leading facility, which represents a quantum leap for our community. With yet another major step taken, we look forward to many decades of solving the mysteries of the cosmos from Mauna Kea,” said Jun Yan, Director General of the National Astronomical Observatories of China.

”We are delighted to start contribution to make this scientific enterprise a reality. We believe TMT and Subaru will be a good match to explore many key riddles of the Universe,” said Prof. Masahiko Hayashi, the Director General of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

“TMT-India is extremely happy to participate in the joint signing of the TMT Master Agreement. It is an important milestone in our global endeavor to raise astronomical observations to a new level with the promise of exciting science. With a large number of young students and researchers in our growing academic program, the Indian astronomical community sees the complete realization of the TMT project as an important stimulus to astrophysics research programs in India. We look forward to jointly addressing the next milestone in this program,” said Dr. P. Sreekumar, Director, Indian Institute of Astrophysics.

About the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation:

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation believes in bold ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of science, environmental conservation and patient care. Intel co-founder Gordon and his wife Betty established the foundation to create positive change around the world and at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Science looks for opportunities to transform–or even create–entire fields by investing in early-stage research, emerging fields and top research scientists. Environmental conservation efforts promote sustainability, protect critical ecological systems and align conservation needs with human development. Patient care focuses on eliminating preventable harms and unnecessary healthcare costs through meaningful engagement of patients and their families in a supportive, redesigned healthcare system. Visit us at Moore.org or follow @MooreScientific.

About TMT:

TMT is the next-generation astronomical observatory that is scheduled to begin scientific operations in 2022 on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. TMT is a collaboration of the California Institute of Technology, University of California, the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, a consortium of Chinese institutions led by the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and institutions in India supported by the Department of Science and Technology of India. Major funding has been provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. For more information, visit tmt.org , www.facebook.com/TMTHawaii or follow @TMTHawaii.

TMT Media contact:

Gordon K. Squires
TMT Communications & Outreach Lead

The ESA Summer of Code in Space Program (Deadline August 4, 2013)

The ESA Summer of Code in Space program (SOCIS; http://sophia.estec.esa.int/socis2013/) is designed to attract undergraduate and graduate developers to write code to for various space related open source software projects. It offers a sizeable remuneration of 4000 Euros for a coding period of 3 months (mid-August to mid-November). Astropy/specutils has been selected as a mentoring organizations and is now accepting applications (for details please go to https://github.com/astropy/specutils/wiki/SoCiS-2013-ideas; deadline is 4th of August). The Astropy Project is a community effort to develop a single core package for Astronomy in Python and foster interoperability between Python astronomy packages. Our SOCIS mentorship will focus on expanding the astropy-specutils package that is designed to deal with code that focuses on spectral data analysis.

ESA has some eligibility criteria http://sophia.estec.esa.int/socis2012/?q=faq#socis_elig_restrictions.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) International Top Young Fellowship (Deadline August 31, 2013)

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) International Top Young Fellowship (ITYF) was established as a prestigious new fellowship program in 2009. The ITYF is designed to attract outstanding, highly motivated, early-career researchers in any of the space science fields covered by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences (ISAS) to work in Japan for 3 (extendable to 5) years. An excellent remuneration package is offered, including research budget (including travel expense) so that the fellow can extend their international profile, as well as developing collaborations within Japan.

The most recent call for JAXA International Top Young Fellowship applications, for FY2013, has been issued. The application deadline is 31 August 2013. Please see the below link for further details.


Professor and Director, Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (Deadline October 1, 2013)

The University of Toronto is seeking a Director to lead the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics. This joint tenured appointment will be at the rank of Full Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics (51%) and the Dunlap Institute (49%). The appointment of the successful candidate is expected to take effect July 1, 2014.

The Dunlap Institute is a leading centre for research and outreach whose mission is to develop innovative astronomical instrumentation and advanced observing techniques, and to mount public education and outreach programs. The Institute’s plans include a continuing increase in faculty, postdoctoral, and staff appointments over the next few years. The Institute has strong ties to the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and to the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics hosted by the University.

The successful candidate must have a Ph.D. in the area of Astronomy and Astrophysics or related field. The successful candidate will be a distinguished leader, with outstanding academic achievement and established abilities in teaching and research supervision, with experience in building collaborative teams and in relating to a range of external national and international partners, and the energy and imagination to exploit this opportunity. The Director will foster innovation in the Institute’s core academic and research programs, building on the existing strengths in astronomy and astrophysics and working with distinguished faculty to enhance its impact. The successful candidate will promote the development of innovative means for channeling information on astronomy and astrophysics to the general public.

Established in 1827 by royal charter, the University of Toronto is the largest and most prestigious research-intensive university in Canada, located in one of the world’s great cities. University of Toronto astronomers enjoy access to many national and international observatories, including ALMA, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, Gemini Observatory, and James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and are presently active in the exploitation of the Herschel Space Observatory, MOST, and Planck. They are also actively engaged in the development of BIT, BRITE, CHIME, Gemini F2T2, Gemini Planet Imager, JWST, Keck/NIRES and OSIRIS, SDSS IV/MaNGA, the South Pole Telescope, SPIDER, SuperBLASTpol, an Arctic observatory, novel near-infrared spectrographs for large telescopes, as well as planning and instrument development for the Thirty-Meter Telescope, in which Canada is a consortium partner. Major computing capacity is available in the University’s SciNet facility and the Southern Ontario Smart!
Computing Innovation Platform (an IBM Blue Gene/Q system housed at the same Centre), among the most powerful in the world.

The role as Director is for an initial five-year term, renewable once. Candidates must demonstrate excellence in, and commitment to, both research and teaching. The successful candidate will be expected to have an active, externally funded and internationally recognized research program and to contribute to the education and training of undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.

The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from visible minority group members, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, members of sexual minority groups, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

The closing date is October 1, 2013; however the search will remain open until filled. Applications including a cover letter, curriculum vitae, a statement outlining current and future teaching and research interests, and the names and contact details of three referees (who will not be contacted without the consent of the applicant) should be forwarded, in confidence, to: dunlap.search@utoronto.ca.

Inquiries should be directed to Peter Martin, Interim Director, Dunlap Institute at this e-mail address.

For more information please visit our websites:

•Dunlap Institute – http://dunlap.utoronto.ca
•Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics www.astro.utoronto.ca
•Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics www.cita.utoronto.ca