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GSFC XMM-Newton GOF Status Report #054: XMM-NEWTON NEWS #22

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_/                 XMM-NEWTON NEWS #22   ---    15-Apr-2002                 _/
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                ESA, XMM-Newton Science Operations Centre at
            Villafranca del Castillo, Satellite Tracking Station
                P.O. Box - Apdo. 50727, 28080 Madrid, Spain


SOC Home Page:           
Helpdesk web interface:  
Helpdesk email address:
News Mailing List:


          - News from the project scientist
          - The XMM-Newton Science Archive (XSA) is open
          - XMM-Newton AO-2 status
          - Proprietary right expiry date in the Observation Status table
          - SAS 5.3.0 released
          - High Accuracy Timing Analysis with SAS 5.3
	  - XMM-Newton Observer Feedback
	  - XMM-Newton Quarterly Status Report
          - XMM-Newton ToO page
          - TOO data of March Gamma-Ray bursts available on WWW
          - SAS Workshop
          - Users Group on the WWW
          - The future: AO-3
News from the project scientist

With this issue of the XMM-Newsletter, the longest so far, we are happy 
to announce major steps forward in many areas, as well as the availability 
of two Gamma-Ray Burst TOO datasets, plus the data of another recent TOO 
(XTE J1751-305) to be released shortly. Many of the items in this 
newsletter, directly or indirectly relate to actions requested by the 
XMM-Newton Users Group, which first met on March 6/7, 2002.
With most of the items mentioned below completed successfully, not all 
however is in an equally successful state. We are evidently extremely 
happy about the extension of the mission approved in December 2001 (as 
reported in XMM-News #19), however the allocated funding has had to assume 
a seriously declining manpower envelope. On top of this, two senior staff 
members and two senior calibration scientists recently left the team.
This has led to a re-organisation of the SOC team which is expected to 
be completed soon. 
I am confident we can deal with all of the above, but sometimes our struggle 
may be visible to you. I sincerely apologise for this, but rest assured we  
are committed to continue and deliver exciting data.

Fred Jansen
XMM-Newton Project Scientist

XMM-Newton Science Archive is open

We are glad to announce that the XMM-Newton Science Archive (XSA) is now open.
It is intended to allow fast, easy and flexible access to the XMM-Newton data.
To start the Java-based user interface, please connect to the following URL:


The XSA content is being daily updated with all the generated ODFs and
PPS products. All the available public data can be retrieved through the XSA
user interface. PIs of XMM-Newton observations can also retrieve their own
proprietary data, through a password-protected account. Details on their XSA
accounts have already been communicated to the PIs.

A "Guided tour to the XSA" is available at the URL:


together with a list of the known caveats for the current version (1.0):


This first version will be followed by regular updates in the future,
which will extend the available data query and retrieval functionalities.

Do not hesitate to address any questions on the XSA content and
functionalities to the XMM-Newton HelpDesk.

We wish you exciting science with the XMM-Newton data!

XMM-Newton AO-2 status

As reported in XMM-News #19, one of the items to be addressed by the SOC 
was that every attempt should be made to accelerate the completion of the 
Guaranteed Time (GT) programme. This has been now taken on-board by the 
SOC and it is confirmed that the combined AO-1 and GT programme will be 
completed early in January 2003. This means this will be the start of 
implementing AO-2 observations. As AO-2 can now be completed using the 
full observing time available, it's completion will require 9 months 
(instead of the announced 12).
The request for early completion of the GT programme was not known at 
the time of issuing (and closing) AO-2; evidently we would have delayed 
the call for observing programs had we known at that time. 
It was also equally undesirable to have the XMM-Newton review process 
in parallel with the Chandra AO, as this would leave the XMM-Newton 
OTAC with the job of having to submit Chandra proposals while reviewing 
XMM-Newton ones.
The combination of all of the above has led to a highly regrettable delay 
in the proposal review process. We apologise for this, and will make 
every effort to finish the process as soon as possible.

One item that was discussed in the Users Group is the size of the panels, 
as the overall complexity of the review process strongly depends on the 
total number of panel members involved. For AO-2 the following categories 

A: Stars, White Dwarfs and Solar System
B: White Dwarf Binaries, Neutron Star Binaries,
   Cataclysmic Variables and Black Holes
C: Supernovae, Supernova Remnants, Diffuse (galactic) Emission
   and Isolated Neutron Stars
D: X-ray Background and Surveys
   with the footnote: {Surveys of certain objects classes, like cluster of
   galaxies or Active Galactic Nuclei, are not considered as surveys to
   be proposed in this panel. On the contrary, surveys of the Galactic plane
   belong to this class.}
E: Galaxies and Groups of Galaxies
F: Active Galactic Nuclei, Quasars and BL-Lac Objects
G: Clusters of Galaxies and Superclusters

Now if we look at the number of proposals submitted, it is evident that in 
order to keep the job of the reviewers acceptable, we need multiple panels 
per category. After having thoroughly discussed the item with the Users 
Group, the following table shows what is being implemented for AO-2.

          Nr. of   Nr. of Nr. of      Nr. of 
category proposals panels proposals   members 
                          per panel   per panel
A:        104       2      52         3
B:        169       3      56         3
C:        109       2      54         3
D:         43       1      43         5
E:        115       2      58         3
F:        216       3      72         3
G:        113       2      57         3

This brings the total OTAC size to 49. Completing the OTAC composition 
process is envisaged to take another 2-3 weeks, after which the review 
process will start, which will consist of per panel reviews, followed 
by a merging of the ranked proposal lists per category by the SOC, in 
cooperation with the panel chairs. Finally all panel chairs meet with  
the overall OTAC chairman, and agree on a final programme.
It is expected to finish the entire review process by early July.

Proprietary right expiry date in the Observation Status table

The Observation & Data Processing Status table:


has been enhanced to include a column identifying the date, when the 
proprietary period expires and the data become public in the XSA. 

Should you have any questions on this matter, do not hesitate to
contact us via the xmmpi e-mail address: xmmpi@xmm.vilspa.esa.es

SAS 5.3.0 released

Version 5.3.0 of the Science Analysis System has been released.


* General

o CHANGES TO THE CCF ORDERING ALGORITHM were introduced in order to
  simplify the maintenance of the calibration database. You can read
  the details in the documentation of the task cifbuild, and at the URL 

  These changes are not recognized by versions of cifbuild earlier
  than 4.0 (SAS version from 5.0.0 to 5.2.x inclusive). If you usually
  create your CIFs by running the task cifbuild on a local copy of the
  CCF database, then you are advised to upgrade to SAS 5.3.0.

  If you wish to stay with an earlier SAS version, but still be able
  to use some of the recent calibration files, you should create the
  CIF via the scripts available at the URL mentioned above.

  were introduced to make additional information available to the SAS
  and the XMM-Newton Science Archive. These changes affect all
  observations made starting from revolution 415, and all ODFs
  reprocessed after 19-March-2002 cannot be processed with
  SAS versions earlier than 5.3.0 without making a small change to the
  SUM.ASC file, as described at:


o A new task, odfbrowser, has been introduced. This allows the user to
  view the contents of an ODF by instrument and exposure. Some of the
  parameters describing the exposure (filter, start and stop time) are
  also displayed. For the X-ray instruments the user can select the
  exposures to process, and launch one of the proc-tasks (emproc,
  epproc, or rgsproc) to create the event lists.

o xmmselect can now make use of canned selection expressions, via the
  so-called preferences mechanism. In order to activate the
  preferences the first time run the command sasprefgen. The usage of
  this mechanism will be expanded in response to requests from the

o A coding error was corrected in the task barycen. The error
  introduced an apparent shift of the order of one part in 10**6 in the
  period determination of a periodic source. With SAS 5.3.0 it is
  possible to recover the period of the Crab pulsar to one part in 10**9.

o The dataset browser is now much faster, solving an outstanding
  problem with the previous SAS releases.


o The MOS CTI correction has been improved to take into account the
  changes occurred since launch.

o A new task, evigweight, assigns a vignetting correction to each
  individual event. This allows one to extract vignetting-corrected
  images and spectra directly.

o A new task, epatplot, is available to identify pile up.

o The pn background rejection and CTI correction have been
  significantly improved.

o The tasks rmfgen and arfgen now reproduce the canned matrices to
  within 1%. Also, the full range of event patterns is
  supported. Further, rmfgen supports the major observing modes.

* OM

o It is now possible to create whole-field image mosaics.

o Improved photometric accuracy in the optical bands (~0.05 mags
  (systematic) or better)


o Hot pixels are better removed.

o The task rgsproc now produces response matrices and fluxed spectra

o Switched from RATE format to COUNT format, but using a new format
  (OGIP Memo OGIP/92-007), which requires XSPEC users to upgrade
  to version 11.1.

High Accuracy Timing Analysis with SAS 5.3

The EPIC-pn camera was designed to offer outstanding time resolutions 
of down to 29 and 7 microseconds for Timing and Burst mode, respectively. 
This makes accurate studies of even ms-scale time-variable objects 
To exploit this potential to the full, it is necessary however to 
understand the event time tagging chain in detail. This involves 
accurate time-related calibrations as well as proper modelling of this 
process in software.

The upcoming release of SAS 5.3 comprises for the first time all
necessary components to support such timing analysis. Tests on data 
from the Crab pulsar taken during XMM-Newton's performance verification
campaign in early 2000 indicate that the relative deviation in the 
observed pulse period w.r.t. the most accurate radio data available 
is now considerably better than 10**-8, with an absolute timing accuracy 
of < 500 microseconds. This is about two orders of magnitude better than 
has been possible with SAS releases earlier than 5.3. In the earlier SAS 
releases the true period of a periodic source could be only determined 
to one part in 10**-6 due to a coding error in the task "barycen".
For the Crab pulsar the new results now conform with estimates of the 
theoretically attainable accuracy with XMM-Newton and the expected 
statistical errors.
Further investigations for periods of other objects are currently

Because of another improvement in converting the onboard time to the
event time, the user should make sure that the data are reprocessed
completely with the new SAS 5.3 and not only with the new "barycen"

XMM-Newton Observer Feedback

The SOC is committed to continuously improve the quality of the services
provided to XMM-Newton users. Your feedback is of the utmost importance to
assist us in this task.

If you have used one of our services (e.g. Helpdesk, XMMPI, ToO Alert, XRPS, 
Webpages, Documents, Data, SAS, SciSim), please take a few minutes to fill 
in the questionnaire available now at:


Your answer will be dealt with as confidential information. 
We greatly appreciate your collaboration. 

XMM-Newton Quarterly Status Report

SOC has created a new Web page summarizing the XMM-Newton Status:


Here you find info on the
* Observing time implementation status 
* Operational efficiency indicators
* Data Processing and Distribution status
* Publications based on XMM-Newton data
The page will be updated approximately every three months.

XMM-Newton TOO Web Page

Following a recommendation of the Users Group, SOC has created a
new Web page about TOO and discretionary time observations:


Here you find links and information on the
* Policies and Procedures
* TOO Alert
* List of performed TOO and discretionary time observations
* Data rights of performed TOO and discretionary time observations

The update of the page will be triggered by performed TOO and
discretionary time observations.

TOO data of March Gamma-Ray bursts available on WWW

Please note that the data from the recently observed gamma-ray bursts 
GRB020321 and GRB020322 are available on the WWW, through the above 
mentioned page.

SAS Workshop 

The pre-registrations to the 1st VILSPA SAS Workshop have largely
exceeded the maximum number of participants (20), dictated by the
need of ensuring the necessary level of resources and individualized
support during the hands-on sessions.

All persons, whose pre-registration to the May workshop could not be
accepted, have been automatically enrolled for the next one, which will
be likely held a few months later. They will be personally contacted by
the Local Organizing Committee when the dates are defined.

Users Group on the WWW

A new WWW page, dedicated to the XMM-Newton Users Group has been set up 
and can be accessed through the relevant item (2nd in list) on the 
overall User Support page at:

Here we will also provide the minutes of the Users Group meeting and
the viewgraphs of the presented talks within the next two weeks.

The future: AO-3

Following the bad experience with the AO-2 proposal submission process, it 
has been decided that for AO-3 a two stage proposal submission process 
will be followed. The first step will then exist of the submission of a 
scientific justification with a limited amount of technical information. 
Following this step, the OTAC review process will take place, and the 
successful proposers will be requested to supply the SOC with their full 
proposal details. 
The XMM-Newton Users Group has requested that future AO's will be issued 
as close as possible to the actual implementation of the proposals. 
In future, nomination of the OTAC members for AO-n will be undertaken 
before AO-n is issued. This will allow for a swift review process, and will 
allow for the following AO-3 cycle (provisional):

AO-3 release           : Jan-2003
AO-3 close             : Mar-2003
AO-3 results available : Jun-2003
AO-3 implementation    : Oct-2003

Yours sincerely,
XMM-Newton SOC

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