IRAM has now established, and will further develop, a support center
dedicated to the ALMA users, which forms a node of the European ALMA
Regional Center (ARC).
ALMA Regional Centers - The ALMA Regional Centers (ARCs) are the main contact point between the ALMA observatory and the users, both before and after the observations (which will be performed in a service mode only). Each ALMA partner (Europe, North America, Eastern Asia, Chile) will run such a center for its own community. The European ARC is organized as a network consisting of a core, located at ESO Garching, and six scientific support nodes hosted by European institutes. The ESO ARC will be in charge of issuing the Call for Proposals, operating the ALMA archive, and distributing the final data and software. The ARC nodes will provide user support, including face-to-face help for data reduction and analysis, as well as a number of advanced services (e.g., support of special projects, improvement of data reduction procedures, developments of new tools, etc.).
The IRAM ARC node - The IRAM ARC node is based on the already existing support and expertise center on millimeter interferometry that was developed over the years for the Plateau de Bure, and on the deep involvement of IRAM in the ALMA construction (e.g., Band 7 cartridges, telescope calibration software,...). We expect that, having access to the ARC node and the Plateau de Bure interferometer, the IRAM user community will be put in the best possible position to obtain observing time on ALMA in the extremely competitive environment that can be expected for this unique instrument. Just like the IRAM telescopes are open to the whole astronomical community, the ARC node is a new service provided by IRAM, which is open to all interested scientists, with special emphasis on the German, French, and Spanish communities.
Tasks - The IRAM ARC node aims to provide user support,
which includes training, help for the preparation of observations, and
face-to-face support. The 6th IRAM millimeter interferometry school
(October 6-10, 2008) is part of that effort. ALMA face-to-face
support will be organized in a way similar to the current PdBI
support, i.e. with a local contact assigned to each project. In
addition, the IRAM ARC node is involved in a number of projects
aimed at developing and optimizing software, observational techniques
or data reduction procedures. The goal of these tasks is both to
develop new tools for ALMA and the ALMA users, and to acquire the
expertise on ALMA which will be neccessary to provide an efficient
user support when ALMA will be in operation. Among the current
projects are the development of the ALMA telescope calibration
software, the On-The-Fly interferometry technique, and interfaces
between GILDAS and CASA.
Web pages are now on-line to present the IRAM ARC node activities and projects in more detail, and to give access to a number of important information and tools: http://www.iram.fr/IRAMFR/ARC. Any questions or inquiries can be sent to arciram.fr.