Science Announcements

APEX Resumes Science Operations in Minimal Mode

Published: 25 Sep 2020

Following the decision taken by ESO on Aug 28 of resuming minimal science operations, the APEX observatory staff has successfully executed the ramp-up plan that was conceived during the previous months. A small team of engineers and astronomers awakened the 12-m antenna and several of the scientific instruments that were unpowered or in stand by since the end of March, when operations had to be suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minimal Science Operations at Paranal and reopening of the Director's Discretionary Time

Published: 18 Sep 2020

The exceptional circumstances imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic led to the suspension of science operations at the La Silla and Paranal observatories, as well as at the APEX telescope, since the end of March. ESO has been closely monitoring the constraints imposed by the pandemic in Chile and has developed plans for a safe and progressive resumption of science operations at the observatories as soon as circumstances allow. Following a detailed assessment of the current situation and the logistic, technical, and safety constraints, as well as the capacity to guarantee the compliance with all measures needed to protect the health of its staff at all times, ESO is re-establishing a minimum level of science operations at the observatory sites. In addition, Director's Discretionary Time proposals can now be submitted again for the FORS2 and UVES instruments at the VLT.

ALMA Redesigns its User Experience

Published: 09 Sep 2020

While ALMA antennas are taking an unanticipated break - and while users are mining the ALMA archive, thinking of new projects and evaluating their past experiences with ALMA data and services offered since Cycle 0 - ALMA is launching a new global project to Redesign the User eXperience (RedUX). As part of RedUX, focus groups will be established to discuss specific aspects of the ALMA user experience. By volunteering to join a focus group, users can help shape the future of ALMA. Anyone interested in contributing to RedUX (and in receiving a small gift at the end of the exercise, as a token of appreciation for their contribution), can fill in this form.

ALMA Update

Published: 09 Sep 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic still continues to impact our lives in many ways around the world. The situation in Chile has slightly improved in the Santiago area but not yet improved in the northern area where the ALMA telescope is located. ALMA operations thus remain suspended and the timeline of resuming observations unfortunately remains uncertain. Detailed plans for the safe return to operations have been developed and regular reviews to consider starting the re-opening process of the Observatory have now started. ALMA is currently still in the Caretaker phase with small teams maintaining the safety of the ALMA equipment and infrastructure. As always, the top priority is the health and safety of all our staff.

ESPRESSO Commissioning Data Release

Published: 07 Sep 2020

The commissioning runs of ESPRESSO both in 1UT mode and in 4UT mode took place at the VLT between November 2017 and July 2019, addressing all the modes of the instrument and the outcome of the three scheduled technical interventions. The commissioning data have been released to illustrate the capabilities of the instrument. They include observations in the 4UT mode, exhibiting the power of the spectrograph with an equivalent collecting area of approximately 16m in diameter. The details of the observations are available at the ESPRESSO Commissioning webpage, which also provides access to the data.

Minimal Science Operations to be Resumed at Paranal, APEX and La Silla

Published: 28 Aug 2020

The exceptional circumstances imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic led to the suspension of science operations at the La Silla and Paranal observatories, as well as at the APEX telescope, since the end of March. ESO has been closely monitoring the constraints imposed by the pandemic in Chile and has developed plans for a safe and progressive resumption of science operations at the observatories as soon as circumstances allow. Following a detailed assessment of the current situation and the logistic, technical, and safety constraints, as well as the capacity to guarantee the compliance with all measures needed to protect the health of its staff at all times, ESO has concluded that it will be able to re-establish a minimum level of science operations at the observatory sites in the coming weeks.

First Data Release of the Fornax Deep Survey (FDS)

Published: 27 Aug 2020

The first data release of the Fornax Deep Survey with VST (FDS, Venhola et al., 2018, A&A, 620, 165) is now available on the ESO archive. The data release consists of 97 high quality images (and of the corresponding weight maps) obtained by stacking u’, g’, r’, and i’-bands data collected with OmegaCAM on the VST from February 2013 to November 2017.

Suspension of P107 Call for Proposals Confirmed

Published: 05 Aug 2020

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the La Silla Paranal Observatory has resulted in the loss of virtually all the observing time allocated in Period 105 (April-September 2020), and the timescale for a full resumption of science operations remains unclear at the moment due to the uncertain evolution of the pandemic. Following the Special Announcement issued on 24 July and the finalization of the time allocation process for Period 106 (October 2020-March 2021), ESO has completed an in-depth analysis of the detrimental effects that the loss of the observing time will have on the commitments made for Large Programmes and other high-priority programmes in both Periods 105 and 106, its foreseen impact on the science time expected to be available in the forthcoming Period 106, and the amount of time that will be required for technical work to be rescheduled once the observatory resumes normal operations. The conclusions of this analysis clearly show that the time available for new programmes in Period 107 will be extremely reduced with respect to previous periods. For this reason the ESO Director General, following discussions with the Council President, the Chair of the Scientific and Technical Committee, and the Chair of the Users Committee, has confirmed the decision to suspend the Call for Proposals for Period 107.

Period 106 Telescope Allocation

Published: 04 Aug 2020

The 106th Observing Programmes Committee (OPC) met online on 29-30 June 2020. Based on the committee's recommendations to the ESO Director General, a total of 2688 (8-hour equivalent) nights of Visitor Mode and Service Mode observations were allocated on the VLT/VLTIVISTAVST, the 3.6-metre, and NTT, and APEX telescopes. The submission deadline for Phase 2 Service Mode observations is 3 September 2020; see the separate announcement for further details.

Phase 2 for Observing Period 106

Published: 04 Aug 2020

With the release of the telescope schedule, the preparation of Service Mode (SM) observations (Phase 2) starts. The deadline for the submission of the Phase 2 material for Period 106 observations is 3 September 2020.

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