| The 2nd workshop on 3rd Generation Calibration (3GC-II) is being held on the south coast of Portugal, with Mario Santos as our genial albeit harassed host. Like its predecessor in Nancay (F) in 2009, the workshop format is a bit unusual in the sense that it takes two full weeks, and requires a considerable amount of preparation from the participants. This kind of experimentation is encouraged by funding agencies like SKADS and RadioNet, who seek to increase the "yield" of the workshops they fund.
The image shows more than half the participants during a brief moment of relaxation, which nevertheless is an integral part of building the worldwide 3GC community. But as the inset shows, it can be difficult to tear people away from the subject, in this case the Brisken delay model.
The subject of this workshop is the urgent topic of Station Beamshapes, with the sub-topics Modeling, Measurement and Application. One of the highlights of the first week was the application by Ian Heywood of the Smirnov "differential gains" technique (see AJDIs of 15-02, 23-02, 30-07, 05-08 2010) to an EVLA observation. This produced some rather puzzling results, which were quickly explained by means of instant MeqTrees simulations (1.5 TTU).
Another potentially important result is the realization that "breaking the degeneracy" between instrumental and source model parameters could well be essential for measuring beamshapes in practice. This should have a considerable impact on the pros and cons of (a-)symmetric beams and their rotation (and translation!) on the sky. And thus on the design of SKA stations, especially dishes.
After getting everyone synchronized and up to speed in the first week, the second week is for harvesting. However, the main purpose of these workshops is to formulate the questions and to forge the personal ties that will generate and sustain widely distributed collaborations throughout the 3GC community. The world of SKA needs answers, and it needs them quickly.