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XMM-Newton Guest Observer Facility
XMM-Newton Users' Group Meeting #5

May 2006 @ GSFC, Greenbelt, MD

Agenda
------
1. Introductory remarks
2. Status summary from US Project Scientist
3. GOF summary of support work accomplished
4. Statement from GOF scientists
5. Budget Review

Attendance
----------

XMM-Newton Users' Group Committee:
Richard Griffiths (Chair)
Alex Brown
You-Hua Chu
Megan Donahue
Michael Eracleous
Paul Plucinsky

XMM-Newton Mission Scientists:
Richard Griffiths (chair)
Richard Mushotzky

XMM-Newton GOF:
Steve Snowden
Randall Smith
Beth Brown
Mike Arida
Sandy Barnes
Brendan Perry
Alan Smale (NASA/HQ)
Wilt Sanders(NASA/HQ) 
Lou Kaluzienski (NASA/HQ)
Lynn Cominsky 

Presentations:

NASA/HQ - Update - Alan Smale

Mission Status - Richard Mushotzky

GOF - Update - Steve Snowden

SAS Update - Brendan Perry

RGS/OM & Publications - Randall Smith

EPIC - Steve Snowden

U.S. Archive Mirror - Michael Arida

Source/Observation Categorization Project - Beth Brown

Meeting Minutes

Summary of US Users Group Meeting for XMM-Newton, held May 16 2006
------------------------------------------------------------------

We commend the XMM US GOF on its continuing support, and in particular
for its performance in the 2006 Senior Review.

The main concerns of the committee at the Users' Group Meeting
were as follows:

1. The budget review procedure of withholding actual costs of the  
   projects was unacceptable

RECOMMENDATION: The committee found it EXTREMELY difficult to provide 
 useful input relating to many aspects of the proposed budgets because  
 numerical financial information was not provided for many of the budget 
 items, particularly manpower costs and overall budget costs.
 The panel feels that this is very counterproductive and diminished
 considerably our ability to provide informed advice. The panel was  
 unhappy that we were requested to evaluate budgets, possibly with 
 serious consequences for the funding of individual GOs, without being 
 provided with the information necessary to allow informed judgments. 
 THE PANEL RECOMMENDS THAT THE SYSTEM ADOPTED FOR THIS BUDGET REVIEW BE 
 ABANDONED AND A SYSTEM SIMILAR TO PREVIOUS YEARS BE ADOPTED.


2. There were outstanding calibration and background (MOS AND PN) 
   questions, including absolute flux calibrations.

3. We are concerned about access to calibration and data reduction
   procedures that are published but not public (e.g., RGS cool columns).


Full Minutes:

 NASA XMM-Newton Users Committee Meeting   2006 May 16  -- at GSFC

 Present: Richard Griffiths (Chair), Alex Brown, You-Hua Chu, Megan  
 Donahue, Michael Eracleous, Paul Plucinsky

 Attending: Richard Mushotzky, Steve Snowden, Randall Smith, Beth  
 Brown, Mike Arida, Sandy Barnes, Brendan Perry (GSFC), Alan Smale, 
 Wilt Sanders, Lou Kaluzienski (NASA/HQ), Lynn Cominsky

 Agenda/Presentations

-Welcome  -- Snowden

-Status Report  -- Mushotzky

 * There is a strong US component to the accepted AO5 program
 (69% of proposals in AO5 have a US Co-I or PI)

 * XMM-Newton has a strong publication record (1 paper/day)

 The Users Committee is pleased to see the continued high scientific
 output from XMM data and the continued high involvement of the US  
 community.

 * Senior review status

 Mushotzky stated that the XMM presentation to the Senior review went
 well and he expects that the XMM US GOF will be funded at close to  
 the levels of previous years, although the exact amount will not be 
 known until HQ completes the Senior Review process. He expects that 
 $5 million will be available for GO funds and the GOF will have about 
 $1.84 million to support the GOF staff.  The Users Committee is 
 pleased at the allocation of funds between the GO program and the 
 GOF support.
 
 * HERA  new SAS client

 HERA is a new SW package which will allow users to log in remotely on
 a GSFC machine and run SAS, CIAO, and HEASOFT.  The major advantage  
 is that this package could save users the trouble of installing and  
 maintaining the latest version of the SW and the calibration files.  
 This would be a major advance for users at small institutions who 
 must do their own system maintenance.  The Users Committee was 
 pleased to hear about this new development.  Most of the Users 
 Committee was unaware of this new SW until the presentation.
 
 * PROFIT software for spectroscopic interpretation

 * Instruments accurate cross calibration and generally stable

 * XMM Slew Survey currently 20% of sky, 50% by 2010, perhaps 80% by  
 2015

 The Users Committee was interested to hear that the slew survey 
 would cover approximately half of the sky by 2010 at a sensitivity  
 approaching that of the ROSAT All-sky Survey in the 0.2-2.0 keV band 
 and ~10X more sensitive than the HEAO-1 survey.
 
-HQ View  -- Smale

 Smale briefed the new organization of NASA HQ for science. 
 Paul Hertz is now Chief Scientist reporting to Mary Cleave (Associate
 Administrator) and C. Hartman (Deputy AA). There is now an  
 "Astrophysics Division" with Rick Howard as the acting Director.  The 
 Deputy Director for the Astrophysics Division is currently vacant but 
 it is expected that Eric Smith will become the deputy.
 
 * Budget contraction

 The NASA budget is $17.932 million for FY07 and $18.686 million for
 FY08.  The budget for the Science Mission Directorate received a  
 1.5% increase in FY07 compared to FY06 and is projected to grow at 
 1.0% in the following years.  This represents a significant decrease 
 from the runout of the FY06 budget and amounts to a reduction of 
 $3.1 billion dollars over four years.  The Users Committee was 
 distressed (as is the entire Astronomical community) to hear this 
 budget news.

 * XMM Senior Review consequences

 Smale reviewed the missions which were and were not affected by the
 steep reduction in the Science budget. He expects that funding for  
 the U.S. XMM GO program will not be affected by this current round 
 of cuts.  The Users Committee was please to hear that the relatively 
 small amount of money to support the U.S. XMM GO program would be 
 spared in the latest round of cuts.
 
-GOF Functions  -- Snowden

 Major developments: XMM-EAS (background modeling), HERA (data  
 processing)

 The Users Committee is satisfied with the organization of the GOF and
 the services provided by the GOF to the U.S. community but wondered
 what the 4 FTE programmers are working on.  Snowden explained that the
 programmers test the new releases of SAS and work on installation
 issues.  The programmers are also involved with the development of the
 XMM background tools and the HERA SW.  The Users Committee expressed
 again their enthusiasm for the HERA SW and the XMM background SW and
 stated that Committee members should start using these SW packages and
 provide feedback to the developers.
 
-SAS Current Status  -- Perry

 SAS V6.5.0 released Fall 2005; next major release V7.0  in ~July 2006

-Publication Tracking  -- Smith

 The Users Committee asked Smith to describe the algorithm for
 identifying an paper as an "XMM" paper.  For example, there are  
 many papers now which contain a joint analysis of XMM and Chandra 
 data and does such a paper count as an XMM paper or a Chandra paper 
 or as both XMM and Chandra.  Smith explained that he retrieves all 
 Abstracts from the ADS which are X-ray papers.  He then examines the 
 abstracts to determine if the paper is an XMM paper.  He judges a 
 paper as an XMM paper if it includes analysis of XMM data.  Therefore, 
 a paper which analyzes both XMM and Chandra data counts as both an XMM 
 and Chandra paper.  A paper which analyzes XMM data and quotes a 
 Chandra result counts only as as an XMM paper and vice versa.  The 
 Users Committee is pleased to see the current publication rate of XMM  
 papers of ~1 per day.

-OM and RGS Status  -- Smith

 OM: 3% photometric accuracy, 1 arcsec positional accuracy;
    	       SAS now handles grism data

 The Users Committee is pleased to see that the XMM OM data  
 are now included in the MAST archive and should be more accessible to 
 the community.
 
 RGS Issues: * long wavelength efficiency/contamination
                 * absolute efficiency vs EPIC
                 * cool columns

 The Users Committee is concerned that the RGS team has been unable
 to develop a physical model which explains the loss of efficiency  
 at all wavelengths but understands the need to release an empirical  
 correction which will address most of the problems.  The Users 
 Committee is concerned about the impact of the cool columns in the 
 RGS instrument which is generating a dispute in the literature on the 
 interpretation of some RGS observations of the WHIM.  The Users 
 Committee is encouraged that the RGS team correction for the cool 
 columns should be included in SAS 7.0, making the correction 
 available to the GOs.
 
-EPIC Status  -- Snowden

 The Users Committee is pleased to hear about the stability of the PN
 and MOS1/2 instrument responses, with the PN being remarkably stable. 
 The agreement between PN and MOS1/2 in the middle of the bandpass is 
 quite good, although significant discrepancies below 1.0 keV and above  
 6.0 keV still require more calibration work.  Snowden described in more 
 detail the background modeling SW and showed examples of background- 
 subtracted and exposure-corrected images and spectra.  The Users 
 Committee agreed that this SW should be a significant benefit for the 
 study of extended objects with XMM.
 
-EPO Program  --  Cominsky

 * Educator Ambassadors
 * Teacher training
 * Supernova Educator Guide
 * Dying Stars and the Birth of the Elements CLEA Laboratory
 * X-ray sky planetarium show

 The Users Committee was impressed with the progress which Cominsky
 has made on the XMM EPO program and appreciated receiving samples  
 of the EPO materials.
 
-Source Classification  -- Brown

 The Users Committee was intrigued by the glimpse of the results from 
 the second XMM source catalog and looks forward to seeing more detail 
 in future meetings and publications.  The Users Committee agrees that 
 the categorization of sources by type would be a benefit to the 
 community.
 
-Archive Status  -- Arida

 The Users Committee is satisfied with the status of the XMM archive
 at GSFC.
 
-GOF and GO Funding  -- Snowden

 The Users Committee was pleased to see that  $6.3 million is
 expected to be available for GO funds in AO-5. The Users Committee
 appreciated the description and formula for the "Fair Share Estimate"
 provided by Snowden which had been used in previous years budget  
 reviews.
 
-Budget Review --   Users Committee

 The committee spent the afternoon of the meeting providing input and
 recommendations to NASA HQ personnel concerning proposed US AO5 GO  
 budgets. 
 As a result of this experience the committee made the following
 recommendations:

 RECOMMENDATION: The committee found it EXTREMELY difficult to  
 provide useful input relating to many aspects of the proposed budgets 
 because numerical financial information was not provided for many of 
 the budget items, particularly manpower costs and overall budget 
 costs.  The panel feels that this is very counterproductive and 
 diminished considerably our ability to provide informed advice. The 
 panel was unhappy that we were requested to evaluate budgets, 
 possibly with serious consequences for the funding of individual GOs, 
 without being provided with the information necessary to allow 
 informed judgments. THE PANEL RECOMMENDS THAT THE SYSTEM ADOPTED FOR 
 THIS BUDGET REVIEW BE ABANDONED AND A SYSTEM SIMILAR TO PREVIOUS
 YEARS BE ADOPTED.

Return to the U.S. XMM-Newton Users Group page.
If you have any questions concerning XMM-Newton send e-mail to xmmhelp@lists.nasa.gov

This file was last modified on Monday, 30-Oct-2006 09:27:06 EST
Curator:Michael Arida (ADNET); michael.arida@nasa.gov

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