November 2021 CTA Consortium Meeting Wrap-up

Credit: Tiziana Abegg, CTAO

Written by: Werner Hofmann, CTAC Spokesperson


Almost 400 members of the CTA Consortium met between November 22 and December 2, for the fourth time in a row in an online format. The first week was dedicated to parallel sessions, which covered central calibration facilities, discussions of the Analysis and Simulations Working Group (ASWG) and of the Science Working Groups (SWG), as well as sessions dedicated to the Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope and outreach.


Highlights from the parallel sessions were reported the second week during the plenary sessions, where the SWG highlighted progress in the Consortium papers on PeVatrons, Galaxy Clusters and Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRB), with solid estimates of GRB detection rates becoming available.


A central topic covered during the CTAO plenary session was the layouts of the Alpha Configuration. Owing to the collaboration between the Project Scientist, ASWG and SWG, the appropriate instrument response functions were derived and used for science benchmarks to compare different configurations. The Project Scientist also reported on the formation of a CTAO simulation team and its specific objectives. Additional updates from the CTAO Managing Director and Project Manager are included throughout this newsletter.


In the ASWG plenary, impressive progress was reported both on the analysis of the LST-1 data, where 500 h of data were logged so far, and on the development of analysis pipelines. The Gammapy team reported consolidation of the interface, aiming for a V1.0 release in the near future. The plenary meeting concluded with reports from the telescope teams, with steady progress in all groups, but hardware and commissioning efforts somewhat impacted by Covid restrictions and, in case of the LST-1, by the dramatic volcano eruption on La Palma.


Meetings of the Collaboration Board (CB) took place on December 1 and 2. During these meetings, EPFL/Lausanne was admitted as new Consortium party, SAPO reported on the latest publications and news, and the future evolution of the Consortium as well as steps to organize and support early career scientists were discussed. The next CTAC meeting in Spring 2022 will hopefully return to a hybrid format.


A key point of the agenda was the election of a new CB chair, with Jürgen Knödlseder stepping down of this position by the end of the year. The election of the new CB chair was carried out electronically, and on December 15 the result was announced: Vitor de Souza will serve as the new CB chair.


We would like to use this opportunity to thank Jürgen Knödlseder for 9 years of service as CB chair. Elected in 2013, Jürgen chaired over 30 CB meetings, and guided discussions in the CB over a wide range of topics, including CTA science goals & performance requirements; site evaluation and selection; optimization of array layouts; staging scenarios; data rights and data policies; the evolution of the Consortium towards CTAO construction and operation; or the relation between CTAC and CTAO. Recurrent CB topics concerned the SWG and ASWG coordinator appointments, assembling list of candidates, asking and sometimes convincing the persons to stand for the election, and organizing the election as well as discussion of dates, locations and formats of Consortium meetings. During Jürgen’s term, the number of country members in the Consortium increased considerably, the SAPO mandate and organization were refined, along with the publication policy, as well as the SWG and ASWG and the rotation schemes for coordinators.


In his role as CB Chair, Jürgen was extremely engaged, ensuring that the CB is properly informed and involved, that the votes and discussions are properly documented, and that well-defined procedures are established through governance documents. Jürgen has truly shaped the way how the CB works, and with that of course how the Consortium works. An important and lasting achievement is that Jürgen raised awareness regarding the environmental footprint of the Consortium, and the Carbon footprint in particular of in-person Consortium meetings; even beyond Covid, his arguments and concerns will have a strong impact on the way we organize meetings. CTAC owes great thanks to Jürgen for his many contributions.