21 July 2008 – UKIRT and the STFC Programmatic Review – Final Outcome
The following note was issued by the Director, JAC, on 21-Jul-2008.
On 3rd July, STFC announced the final outcome of the Programmatic Review. I am pleased to announce to the UKIRT community that, due in no small part to the very strong support that you provided to the consultation process, as reflected in the report of the Ward panel, the outlook for UKIRT is now very much better than when the initial rankings were released in March.
The short-term arrangements are as follows:
1. UKIRT will continue operating as a full-service observatory until the end of 2008. This will give me an opportunity to continue my ongoing discussions with several potential partners who are interested in joining UKIRT, some of which are very promising at present. Although some of the candidates are interested only in wide-field imaging with WFCAM, others are interested in the entire suite of capabilities: imaging, spectroscopy and polarimetry.
2. The situation will be assessed at the end of 2008. Depending on the progress of the partnership discussions and the scientific aspirations of the likely partners, three options are currently foreseeable:
(a) UKIRT will continue operating as a full-service observatory with a new partnership and a reduced contribution from the UK;
(b) UKIRT will convert to wide-field survey mode in early 2009 and will then operate with a new partnership and a reduced contribution from the UK; or
(c) UKIRT will convert to wide-field survey mode in early 2009 and the UKIDSS survey programme will be expeditiously completed under STFC funding.
3. If the situation evolves such that the choice between options becomes clear before the end of 2008, the decision date will be brought forward.
Option (c) is clearly the worst-case scenario and it is listed here for completeness; I am optimistic that a partnership arrangement can be reached for UKIRT, and that the facility will continue to operate under scenario (a) or (b).
This new implementation strategy offers three clear advantages:
• first, it gives me more time to establish a viable partnership for the future of UKIRT without compromising its capabilities;
• second, it recognises the completion of the full, approved UKIDSS survey as a minimum deliverable; and
• third, under any of the three scenarios, there now exists an opportunity to develop a scientific mission for UKIRT in the post-UKIDSS era.
Achievement of this outcome is a very major step forward for UKIRT and its community.
Professor Gary Davis
Links and History
|Previous update 4, 2-Apr-2008||UKIRT and the STFC Programmatic Review – Update 4|
|Previous update 3, 22-Mar-2008||STFC Programmatic Review – Update 3: User Input (22-Mar)|
|Previous update 2, 18-Mar-2008||STFC Programmatic Review – Update 2: PPAN Feedback & User Input (18-Mar)|
|Previous update 1, 10-Mar-2008||STFC Programmatic Review – Update 1: Important note to users from Director, JAC and Chair, UKIRT Board (10-Mar)|
|First note to users, 3-Mar-2008||URGENT – STFC Programmatic Review and Semesters 08A and 08B (3-Mar)|