Tuesday, July 23, 2013

SALT Status Update for July 2013

Lots and lots of updates in this SALT Status Update for July!  Quick
reminder that 2013-2 proposals are due on 1 August and HRS science
verification proposals are due on 15 August.  Please see
http://salt4scientist.salt.ac.za/ for more details.

Recent Science Results

Strum et al. included SALT observations of their study of the
interesting X-ray binary SXP 1062.  The neutron star in this source
has a large spin rate and spin down rate, and this makes it an
interesting candidate to study accretion physics.  Comparing the
properties of the SALT spectrum to previous observations indicated an
increasing size or density to the disc around the star.  For more
details, please see: http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.6022

SALT Astronomer Vacancy

A new SALT astronomer position is currently being advertised following
Tim Pickering's resignation to take up a position at STScI.  The
deadline for applications is 31 August and for more details, please
see: http://www.saao.ac.za/salt-astronomer/

SALT Talks

There have been a wide range of talks given about SALT recently.  Here
are links to some of them:

Science talks at the Warsaw board meeting:

Lisa Crause's updates on the HRS and Collimator upgrade (lots of
pictures): http://pysalt.salt.ac.za/talks/SALT_Spectrographs.pdf

Steve Crawford's talk to the ThunderKATs group (with audio recording
of the talk):

If you have given a talk recently about SALT or your SALT observations
and you would like us to host a copy, please let us know about it at


At the end of this week the HRS is being shipped to SALT following its
dismantling after the last finishing touches and testing. Although the
throughput measurements in the lab were not as straightforward to do
as anticipated, the results seem to indicate values fairly close to
the predictions. One task completed just before disassembly was the
gluing of small thin anti-reflection coated glass disks to the fibre
inputs, to improve throughput and focal ratio degradation and mitigate
against dust.  With the High Resolution Spectrograph's imminent
migration from Durham to Sutherland, there has been a wide range of
activities in preparation for it.  Please see Lisa Crause's blog posts
to get all of the updates including first light for the fibre feed!


As a reminder, the call for HRS science verification proposals closes
on 15 Aug (see

SAMS (edge sensor) update

Due to a combination of factors, the factory acceptance testing of the
first batch of edge sensors has had to be postponed from mid-July to
late September. The encouraging news is that the behaviour of all the
sensors tested to date, in terms of temperature and humidity
insensitivity, is within specification. The first subarray tests (the
7 central segments) are now due to begin in the latter part of the

Abstracts for SALT Proposals

Interested in what science other partners are doing?  SALT abstracts
are now available via the WebManager for all members of the SALT
consortium.  Click on the 'Abstract' tab in the WM menu to access the
abstracts for the last three semesters.

Data Downloads

Principle contacts for a proposal can now request to download data of
past observations as well as observations of spectrophotometric
standard stars from the WebManager.  From the 'Summary of executed
observations' table on the proposal page, check the box for 'Request
data' or 'Request spectrophotometric standards', click on submit, and
the data should be staged for you to download within 24 hours.  The
principle contact will receive an email with the link to the data as
soon as it is ready for you to access.

RSS Simulator Update

To improve the performance of the RSS, the zeropoint for the
articulation angle will be reset for the 2013-2 Semester.  This should
result in an increase in the throughput for observations done in
littrow, however, this will result in the predicted wavelength of the
observations shifting.  This change will only come into effect on 1
November for the 2013-2 semester, but please use the most recent
version of the RSS simulator (v4.0) for the most up to date

Analysis of Velocity Stability

Alexei Kniazev has provide a report on the velocity stability of RSS
spectroscopy as measured for emission line sources.  The report has
been posted on the Science Wiki and is accessible here:

Director's Discretionary Time

At the last board meeting, the Board decided to allocate 5 hours of
discretionary time to the SALT Science Operations Manager (David
Buckley) starting in 2013-2.  Details of how this will be managed
still need to be finalized by the SSC, but if you are interested in
applying for this time at some point, please contact

Website Questionnaire

Want to help improve the quality of the SALT website?  Please take a
moment to complete the following questionnaire by August 1 and
provides some insight on how we are doing:


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