25 June 2013

Announcement of Opportunity: The James Clerk Maxwell Telescope

The James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) is one of the world's leading astronomical observatories. For more than 25 years it has served the UK and international communities with unique and forefront capabilities that have blazed the trail in submillimeter astronomy, consistently leading the world in productivity and impact. In addition, the JCMT pioneered many operational innovations, including flexible scheduling and the provision of data-reduction pipelines. Now equipped with the world’s fastest submillimeter mapping camera, SCUBA-2, it ideally complements the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), provides a rich addition to the legacy of Herschel, and is poised to deliver world-leading science for several years to come.

Despite these successes, the UK’s funding agency for astronomy, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), can no longer support the JCMT beyond 30 September 2014. This decision follows a review process and reflects the evolution of the UK’s suite of observational capabilities in a tightly constrained financial environment. The observatory, its instrumentation, and its support equipment are therefore being offered to the global astronomical community through this Announcement of Opportunity.

We encourage anyone who is interested in participating in the JCMT beyond 1 October 2014 to review the prospectus and submit an Expression of Interest. There are no preconceptions or constraints: we welcome parties wishing to take over the operation of the entire observatory, parties interested in becoming minor partners, and any other permutation. We are willing to consider any and all possibilities. Details of the facilities being made available and the process for registering your interest are all described in the prospectus.

The JCMT is a highly productive, world-leading observatory with unique observational capabilities for submillimeter astronomy. It is being offered at a time when Herschel has successfully completed its mission and as ALMA ramps up toward full science operations. ALMA's high sensitivity within small fields is a perfect complement to the JCMT's wide-field instruments. We invite you to consider this unprecedented opportunity to gain access to forefront submillimeter capabilities at a time when this part of the spectrum is being opened up for exploitation and to participate in the new discoveries that will surely emerge.

The deadline for submission of expressions of interest is 15 September 2013. Given the challenging timeline, advance notice of intent to submit an EoI is strongly requested.