Non-UKIDSS WFCAM Operations

Non-UKIDSS WFCAM Operations

This page details the operational and data access policies of UKIRT in non-UKIDSS modes.


Preparation and execution

All observations will be undertaken using the standard UKIRT preparation and execution tools. Copies of the OT and survey definition tool will be made available. Note that the allowed observing modes will be restricted to those in the WFCAM library.


To ensure the integrity of archived data, all observers will be required to do the standard nightly calibrations with WFCAM (standard fields, spaced by one hour in the first instance, frequency to be re-evaluated once a significant amount of data are available). This policy applies to all WFCAM operations – UKIDSS, PATT, UH and Japanese time included.


PATT and UKIDSS observing will be flexibly scheduled. UKIDSS observers will observe whatever survey comes to the top of the queue, while PATT observers will adhere to the following sequence:

  1. Own project (if conditions requirements are met and allocated time has not expired)
  2. Other PATT projects from the queue (again if conditions requirements are met)
  3. UKIDSS MSBs (if neither 1 nor 2 are available and conditions requirements are met)
  4. Own backup projects

Japanese and UH time will not be flexibly scheduled unless specifically arranged in advance.

Access to PI data

General Policy

NOTE this policy has at least temporarily been superseded by the note below (“March 2007 Note”)

In general, WFCAM data are retrieved in reduced form from the WFCAM Science Archive. We recognise that in some cases there may be a good case for wishing to have quick access to raw data, and in those cases we may – on a BEST-EFFORTS basis – be able to provide data on either LTO (1 or 2) tape or USB-2 interfaced hard disks at JAC. Tapes or disks must be supplied by the observer. If you believe you have a case for doing this, you must contact your support scientist well in advance of your run, if possible 2-3 weeks ahead. Note that WFCAM data sets are very large and you should be ready to confirm that you have sufficient computing resources at your home institution to reduce any data supplied in this way.

In general, there will be a delay of 1-2 weeks after your data are taken before they are shipped to you – do not expect be able to take the data away at the end of your run. Finally, note that it is your responsibility as PI to inform your observers of the above (if you are not coming to the telescope personally). Last minute requests will not normally be accommodated. 

March 2007 Note

Until further notice, we will be unable to perform the “best efforts” copying of WFCAM data to tape and/or disk. This is due to staffing shortages and other priorities. Although the situation may change in the future, we advise PIs wishing to take data copies away from the island following their WFCAM run that they will need to allow sufficient time after their run to copy data down to Hilo and onto a USB disk that the PI supplies. Suitable workstations are available. We would advise you to allow at least two days to complete this process for a typical WFCAM run. Typical data transfer rates are 6 hours for a full night of WFCAM data (typically 160 Gb). It is advisable, given a laptop with sufficient disk space or a USB diskdrive, to scp data directly from the WFCAM machines while at the summit. PIs should make sure they meet their support scientist at the JAC before the run to check the suitability of their laptop and/or USB disk for data transfer.

Note that the raw data format – Starlink NDF – will need conversion to FITS at the PI’s home institution. If you do not have a copy of the Starlink
software an ISO image is available via the UKIRT web pages and this software is supported for UKIRT users by the JAC.

Proprietary period

All non-UKIDSS WFCAM data will become publicly accessible via the science archive one year after they are first ingested.