Today was the first day of the AS-4 (After-Sloan-4) proposal-writing workshop, in which we started a sprint towards a large proposal for the Sloan Foundation. Very intelligently, Juna Kollmeier (OCIW) and Hans-Walter Rix (MPIA) started the meeting by having every participant give a long introduction, in which they not only said who they are and what they are interested in, but they also said what they thought the biggest challenges are in making this project happen. This took several hours, and got a lot of the big issues onto the table.
For me, the highlights of the day were presentations by Rick Pogge (OSU) and Niv Drory (Texas) about the hardware work that needs to happen. Pogge talked about the fiber positioning system, that will include robots, and a corrector, and a [censored] of a lot of sophisticated software (yes, I love this). It will reconfigure fast, to permit millions (something like 25 million) exposures (in five years) with short exposure times. Pogge really convinced me of the feasibility of what we are planning on doing, and delivered a realistic (but aggressive) timeline and budget.
Drory talked about the Local Volume Mapper, which mates a fiber-based IFU to a range of telescopes with different focal lengths (but same f-ratio) to make 3-d data cubes at different scales for different objects and different scientific objectives. It is truly a genius idea (in part because it is so simple). He showed us that they are really, really good at making close-packed fiber bundles, something they learned how to do with MaNGA.
It was a great day of serious argument, brutally honest discussion of trade-offs, and task lists for a hard proposal-writing job ahead.