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ING Newsletter No. 10, December 2005

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Reference: ING Newsl., No. 10, page 1-2.
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Message from the Director

Dear Reader,

This is the 10th issue of the ING Newsletter. Now ‘ten’ does not read like a big number, but knowing the effort it takes to produce these Newsletters on a more or less regular basis it is worth a big thank-you to all those people who have contributed over the years! And let me state the obvious: volunteers for contributions are always welcome.

This Newsletter brings a number of important scientific and technical highlights. Worth a mention here are the nice results obtained with the telescopes on La Palma of the collision of the Deep Impact probe on comet Swift-Tuttle. ING’s current main instrumentation development project, GLAS, which aims to build a laser guide star for adaptive optics, is summarised in this Newsletter as well. I hope you will find these and several other contributions of interest.

An important event for the observatory took place in July when an independent international panel of scientists reviewed the functioning and future prospects of the ING. This activity was commissioned by the Board of the ING to evaluate the WHT and INT in a wider international context and provide an independent vision of the observatory’s current and future scientific health.

The ING finds itself at an important crossroads for various reasons. Since the previous review of this kind a number of major changes have taken place. For example, measures were introduced to drastically reduce the overall operational cost of the telescopes. Furthermore, developments around the world on large telescopes have resulted in changes in the requirements for the ING telescopes from the user community. And on the organisational side, the international agreements that have formed the basis of the scientific partnership on La Palma for a quarter of a century will be up for renewal in 2009. These issues formed the core of the questions on which the visiting committee was asked to provide its opinion.

The review committee was chaired by Jeremy Mould (NOAO) with Brian Boyle (CSIRO), Bruce Carney (Univ. of North Carolina) and Bruno Leibundgut (ESO) as members. The panel first visited La Palma for two days to commence their work at the observatory. After that, the group met with scientists from the three main user communities as well with representatives of the funding agencies: PPARC for the UK, NWO for the Netherlands, and the IAC for Spain.

At the time of writing, the report from the committee has been submitted to the ING Board and the funding agencies. It now forms part of the background information that the agencies will require in order to make informed decisions on the future investment in the ING. It is expected that the report will be made public shortly, but in anticipation of that I am pleased to be able to report that the committee placed the ING in an extremely favourable light, saw very good scientific prospects for the WHT for several more years, and gave its full support to the developments that are currently under way.

Depending on the outcome of the ongoing deliberations, the ING may well be producing at least another ten issues of this Newsletter, presenting scientific highlights and developments in future years.

René G. M. Rutten ().

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