2007 September 13
As expected, not a lot of time to get things done today. But I managed to put together a draft ATA proposal. I really wish that I had a sense of whether it was any good at all — although, to be honest, given the current size of the ATA community, there’s virtually no chance that the proposal wil be rejected. (Oh man will I feel foolish if I turn out to be wrong about that.) Anyway, the uncertainty is in two areas: whether the proposal makes sense technically, and whether it would be a good proposal if there actually were competition for ATA time. The second area is really only, well, secondary to me at the moment, but it would be nice to know more about. As for the first area, I’m just not sufficiently familiar with radio observing to even know what issues I need to worry about, let alone whether my treatment of them is correct and sufficient. For instance, I tried to deal with SNR considerations quantitatively, but I really doubt that I did so correctly. Even we were not dealing with a funky eight-by-eight correlator setup, I wouldn’t be all that confident in my determination of the expected observational RMS or of the expected signal strength. In fact, since we’re obtaining spectra here, I’m not even that sure of what the correct “signal” to consider is. Anyway, all this stuff is why I have an adviser. With luck, I’ll get some feedback from Geoff before I submit the proposal (which I do by … emailing it to Geoff). But if I don’t, the worst case is that I asked for something silly, someone has to fix things for me, and I make fairly inefficient use of ATA time. I can live with all that for now.
I also semi-volunteered to go up to Hat Creek next week to cover part of the period while the on-site astronomer is on vacation. Not sure what that’ll be like. I have visions of learning a lot about ATA operations and getting lots of useful work done (like restructuring OmegaPlot! … I have the feeling that this is going to become the white whale of my non-requisite research work) but, knowing how such visions have turned out during previous observing runs … well, we’ll see.
Once the proposal is squared away, my next priority is to write the 120 aperture photometry lab. I think I can do that fairly quickly, but it is the kind of thing I get pretty OCD about, and frankly I think it’s something that it’s good to be OCD about. That could well be all I work on until heading off to Hat Creek. Once I’m there, there’s this idea that I can automate the checking of antenna gains; then I’ll probably have my broadband spectra data to work with; then there will be followup proposals and analysis … Well, my work is cut out for me.
Edit: God damnit, two paragraphs concluded by “… well, xxx yyy.” Way to avoid being formulaic.