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Towards a Common Language

Submitter: Jan Noordam
Description: For 3 weeks, a group of 30 radio astronomers of various nationalities, genders, ages, creeds etc have assembled in Groningen and Dwingeloo to be educated in the techniques that will be required for dealing with the next generation of giant radio telescopes (SKA, ALMA) and its precursors (LOFAR, ASKAP, MEERKAT, MWA, LWA, PAST, ATA, eVLA, etc).

The workshop is one of a series, funded by the Marie Curie program of the EU, in the context of the European SKA Design Study (SKADS). The image shows the participants doing MeqTree exercises during the first week, using the new Computing Training Facility of the Kapteyn Institute in Groningen. Later, a subset moved to Dwingeloo for two more weeks of targeted projects (e.g. reducing LOFAR data).

In addition to general lectures on the physics of radiation, propagation and imaging, much emphasis was placed on the socalled Measurement Equation. The latter is a mathematical description of a generic radio telescope, which plays a crucial role in calibration. Although simplified forms have been used successfully with existing radio telescopes (like WSRT, VLA, GMRT, AT, etc), the general, full-polarization matrix form of the ME has only been formulated over the last decade (mostly at ASTRON).

The ME is believed to be complete, in the sense that it can accurately describe any radio telescope, including modern developments like aperture arrays (e.g. EMBRACE) and focal plane arrays (e.g. APERTIF). Therefore, it can be regarded as the new common language of radio astronomy, which will greatly facilitate international collaboration and exchange. It is absolutely crucial for the development of common tools, which will be the next step. We are proud to be playing a leading role in this process of international convergence.
Copyright: ASTRON
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