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Coronavirus: News Update from the ING

In a previous INGNEWS message we informed that all activities at the telescopes, including science observations at the INT and WEAVE integration at the WHT, stopped in 16 March 2020.

We are pleased to let you know that INT observations resumed on Wednesday 6 May 2020. Maintaining the protection and wellbeing of the staff as a first priority, all observations are carried out in service mode by ING students, who have gladly volunteered to take on the observing. We are not accepting visiting observers. Observations have a number of restrictions, such as no instrument changes; schedules have been reworked to maximise the scientific use of the telescope in the present constraints.

Thanks to decisive action from the IT and Administration groups, activities of all ING groups have continued during the lockdown, with everyone working from home. A lot of activity in preparation for WEAVE integration has continued, at ING as well as in all groups involved elsewhere in WEAVE development.

We are pleased to share the latest WEAVE news with the community. The WEAVE prime-focus corrector has completed its assembly at the SENER factory, with truly excellent alignment data. The WEAVE spectrograph is fully assembled and aligned at NOVA in Dwingeloo, and is awaiting travel permission for shipment to La Palma. Fibre production is nearly complete, with Plate A of the positioner fully populated in Oxford. The spectrograph control software and the scheduler have been successfully integrated with the high-level software at the ING, and work on the data reduction and analysis software is well advanced. On the science side, the survey readiness review in January 2020 demonstrated the excellent work done by the science teams, who are prepared to start the surveys once the instrument is ready.

Following the Government's de-escalation plans, we are making plans for resuming work at the WHT soon. But the covid-19 lockdown will have a significant impact on WEAVE integration, and the date of first light is hard to guess at present. The Canaries enter Phase-1 of the de-escalation on 11 May, which relaxes the confinement regulations. But the pace of recovery varies from country to country and we will remain limited by travel restrictions for some time. We will keep the community informed of developments in the coming months. In the mean time, our big thanks for the effort and determination of all teams involved in WEAVE, and to the ING staff and students for making the restart of INT observations possible.

Marc Balcells
Director ING
10th May, 2020

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Last modified: 11 May 2020