01 January 2006

NEWS:   IOTA plans to cease operation on 01 July 2006

Dear Friends of IOTA:

This is to let you know that we currently plan to operate IOTA with a
full schedule until 1 July 2006, and then to close the facility.

The CfA director, Charles Alcock, recently decided that we must close
IOTA earlier that we had wished.  This is a money-saving decision, but
unfortunately it affects our science plans for IOTA.  As you know, for
the past 1-2 years we have been hoping to operate IOTA until summer
2007, on the assumption that by then we would have finished the main
projects that could profitably be done at IOTA, and other
interferometers would be taking over the field.  We have discussed this
over the past 18 months with Dr Alcock, and he has been briefed on the
gains from this plan.  That notwithstanding, he has now requested a
shorter timetable.  Therefore we now plan to close on 1 July 2006.

There are several issues to consider:  science wrapup, scheduling,
people, decommisioning the observatory, and the disposition of material

Science wrapup:  The current observing schedule for January through
April 2006 assumes that we will be operating through mid-2007.  It may
be that we should change some of the planned observations in view of the
mid-2006 closing.  In particular some long-term projects may no longer
make sense, and might be dropped.  On the other hand, some short-term
projects might need to be accelerated in order to gain maximum benefit
from the remaining observing time.  Thesis projects, in particular,
should receive top priority.

Scheduling:  I will entertain proposals for either dropping or adding
observing projects to the current January-April season, and for requests
to use the additional May-June observing time.  Please contact me by
email or phone, and make sure that you receive an acknowledgement from

People:  Marc Lacasse will continue to work at IOTA for observing and
later decomissioning.  However he has been offered a position at the
MMT, near the IOTA facility, so he will make a phased transition over
the coming 9 months or so.  We will try to have additional help
available as needed; Peter Schuller and Nat Carleton have offered to
assist, and we may be fortunate enough to have a pre-doc student trainee
available on-site for several months.

Decommisioning:  Our tentative plan is to operate at full capacity until
1 July, then to stop observing.  Before and after that time, we will
dismantle, pack, store, ship, etc., as appropriate.

Assets:  Some of the assets (optics, mounts, computers, electronics,
etc.)  will be returned to their owners, but most of the assets will be
sent to other interferometers or labs where they could do the most good
for science.  In particular, if you know of items at IOTA that could
profitably be used elsewhere, please let us know.

Please contact Wes Traub if you have questions or comments.

             Wesley A. Traub          wtraub@jpl.nasa.gov
                  Chief Scientist, Navigator Program
       Project Scientist, Terrestrial Planet Finder Coronagraph
     Cell: 818-726-2462    Work: 818-393-5508    Fax: 818-393-4950
Jet Propulsion Lab, M/S 301-451, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena CA, 91109