Good news! Although the weather reports for Western Europe and the Plateau de Bure could not have been worse during the last few months, the observatory is now on the best way to bring almost every A-rated project to completion before the end of May. The observatory has also been able to invest observing time on a few B projects and on two targets of opportunity. Since last December, 37 different requests have successfully been scheduled for observations. Though the winter session will soon come to an end, we are still confident to have a few more projects observed in the remaining weeks.
The observing efficiency of the interferometer has been lower than in previous years, but the drop in efficiency is nevertheless well balanced by the high quality of the data. The combination of both the D and C2 configuration and the extended bandwidth capabilities of the new six antenna correlator have been beneficial for a good number of projects.
Finally, we would like to remind users of the Plateau de Bure Interferometer that B-rated proposals which were not started have to be resubmitted again. The daily status of all ongoing projects is accessible on the Internet (http://iram.fr/doc/project.html).
This summer, a lot of work is foreseen at the Plateau de Bure to carry on improving on safety and to prepare the observatory thoroughly for the next coming winter period. In particular, we will have to inspect and work on the cladding of the hangar, replace the high-voltage line switch of the observatory and deal with the maintenance of the five antennas. We will rely on external support for other important activities, not at least for the assembly of the reflector of antenna 6. During this period, because of manpower limitations and logistics, we will give priority to the technical issues and therefore have less time available for astronomical observations. Please note also, that during this time the interferometer will be operated with only 4 antennas and mostly in night time. We plan to start the maintenance period by the mid of June.
Work on the thermal insulation of the yoke of antenna 6 is proceeding slightly behind schedule, but should almost be completed by the end of May. Shortly after the transport to the site of the central hub, we will start working on the assembly of the 15m reflector. According to the current plans, this will not happen before mid-June.