1. HRIBF Update and Near-Term
(J. R. Beene)
Fiscal 2005 has been a challenging time for everybody working at HRIBF, but especially for our engineering staff who have borne the brunt of the intense effort required to finish the HPTL project on schedule while continuing to deliver beam to experiments. The replacement and conditioning of the power supply for the 180o bending magnet in the tandem terminal, and the fabrication and replacement of coils on the Isobar Separator dipoles [see the February 2005 Newsletter] have added to an already heavy workload. We are nevertheless on schedule to begin commissioning of HPTL by the end of August. We have recently completed a Readiness Review and made necessary modifications in our Authorization Basis documents in preparation for this commissioning process. [see "HPTL Update" in this newsletter for a status report].
Our ability to deliver beams to experiments has been limited for much of the year. Even though it was planned well in advance, the loss of the ability to carry out RIB development at the On Line Test Facility (OLTF) for 10 months was particularly painful since it impacted our beam development program severely. The HRIBF is now fully operational once again and able to deliver our full range of beams to all experimental endstations. We are making up for lost beam development time by using the OLFT heavily, and we have added the capability of studying production using 3,4He beams to the OLTF repertoire. During the time that we could not deliver heavy beams because of the Isobar Separator limitations, we scheduled 7Be and fluorine campaigns. The 7Be campaign was an especially notable success, both in terms of beam delivery and physics output [see section 3 for details]. We are now in the process of preparing for an extended (8 to 10 week) neutron-rich RIB campaign, which will begin the week of August 15 and extend beyond the end of the fiscal year (September 30). It will be followed by stable beam runs and a campaign of radioactive fluorine runs. We will make a concerted effort to increase the intensity and purity of our fluorine beams during this campaign. Our next scheduled maintainance period will occur in late November.
Funding for physical sciences in general and nuclear physics in particular continues to be a critical issue. The recently passed comprehensive energy bill has many aspects favorable to the DOE Office of Science, and language that strongly supports low energy nuclear physics, especially RIA. However, this is not an appropriations bill: we still live by our annual appropriations. The FY 2005 budget was reasonably favorable for HRIBF operations, but very tough on the HRIBF research program. The FY 2006 President's budget, announced in February 2005, contained cuts in both HRIBF programs, and if enacted would lead to significant contraction of the entire HRIBF program. Both the Senate and House have passed FY 2006 budgets that are more favorable than the President's budget, but the bills have significant differences in other areas so a favorable outcome won't be assured until a final result is produced by a conference committee. The problems posed by the recent budget trends and the near-term budget outlook have made it painfully clear that the 2002 Long Range Plan cannot be implemented as written. Consequently, NSAC charged a committee under the chairmanship of Bob Tribble of Texas A&M University to produce a report providing guidance for implementing the 2002 Long Range Plan. A brief article discussing this report from the point of view of HRIBF appears later in this newsletter.