Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer (MSE) Update

By/par Patrick Hall, MSE Management Group Chair
(Cassiopeia – Spring/printemps 2018)

Successful Systems Conceptual Design Review

The Maunakea Spectroscopic Explorer project completed a very successful Systems Conceptual Design Review in January 2018. An external review panel chaired by Michael Strauss (Princeton) delivered a report which stated, in part: “the bottom line is that this project is in very good shape, and at an appropriate level of maturity for the end of the Conceptual Design phase. We have been very impressed by the level of sophistication that the MSE project team has brought to this project, and the tremendous amount of hard work that has been carried out thus far. This level of professionalism bodes well for the project as it enters the preliminary design phase.” For more details, see this link.

Into the Preliminary Design Phase

To publicize the upcoming preliminary design phase of MSE to existing and potential new partners, the Project Office has produced a four-page MSE brochure and a twenty-page MSE Prospectus. Hardcopies are available by contacting Mary Beth Laychak.

Development is also underway on a 100-page MSE Project Book describing the detailed technical development of the MSE observatory. The Project Book is intended to be a companion of the Prospectus to provide technical information of MSE to those who want to know more regarding potential engineering contributions. The Management Group is actively discussing the distribution of preliminary design phase work packages among existing and potential new partners in the 2019-2020 time frame.

To bring MSE opportunities to the attention of potential new partners, meetings related to wide-field spectroscopy and US decadal survey planning are being attended by Project Office staff including Kei Szeto (Project Manager) and Alan McConnachie (Project Scientist), as well as by MG Chair Pat Hall.

In particular, many members of the US community present at the just-concluded SnowPAC conference ‘Big Questions, Big Surveys, Big Data: Astronomy & Cosmology in the 2020s’ expressed great interest in the science that the MSE project will enable by the late 2020s. Six talks on various aspects of the current status of the MSE project were presented at SnowPAC; they can be viewed in PDF form via the Contributed Talks button on the SnowPAC website.

Project Office staff will also be visiting China in May, and will have a strong presence at the SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation meeting in Austin in June.

As the preliminary design phase ramps up, Kei Szeto is succeeding Rick Murowinski as Project Manager, allowing Rick to focus on engineering work for the Project Office. The MSE collaboration is grateful to Rick for his invaluable contributions during conceptual design.

Science Team Membership for the Design Reference Survey

As you may have seen on the CASCA E-mail exploder, a major science development phase for MSE will occur in 2018. The international MSE science team will develop the first phase of the MSE Design Reference Survey (DRS). The DRS is planned as a 2 year observing campaign that will demonstrate the science impact of MSE in a broad range of science areas and will provide an excellent dataset for community science. It will describe and simulate an executable survey plan that addresses the key science described in the Detailed Science Case. The DRS will naturally undergo several iterations between now and first light of MSE: this first phase (nicknamed DRS1) will set the foundation for its future development.

DRS1 will be supported by the Project Office and will use various simulation tools, including Integration Time Calculators, fiber-assigning software, and a telescope scheduler. It is anticipated that a future iteration of the DRS will become the first observing program on MSE come first light of the facility, and the DRS will be used by the Project Office going forward to understand the consequences for science for all decisions relating to the engineering and operational development of MSE.

To join the Science Team, please contact your MSE Science Advisory Group representatives, Kim Venn or Sarah Gallagher. More information about the development of the DRS and how to participate will be circulated to the members of the MSE Science Team in April/May 2018.

CASCA 2018

There will be an informal face-to-face MSE gathering at CASCA in Victoria in May; details to follow. Hope to see you there!

The MSE website is Questions or comments about MSE governance can be directed to your MSE Management Group Members, Greg Fahlman and Pat Hall. Scientific questions or comments can be directed to your MSE Science Advisory Group Members, Sarah Gallagher and Kim Venn.

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