This work package will equip astronomers to exploit current and future radio astronomy facilities, with the emphasis on observatories with RadioNet3 participation. These include enhanced existing arrays such as the EVN, e-MERLIN, WSRT/Apertif and IRAM/NOEMA, new telescopes like LOFAR and the major intercontinental projects, ALMA, SKA and its pathfinders. Single-dish facilities play a vital role, not least in providing increasingly rare opportunities for hands-on observing. Scientifically, studies of everything from the Sun to the CMB will benefit from enhanced synergy between hitherto largely separate techniques, e.g. using VLBI for Solar system observations or multi-wavelength matching-resolution studies with ALMA and e-MERLIN.
The new/upgraded instruments will attract an order of magnitude increase in the user community (commensurate with the investment). This growth brings in astronomers from institutes with no interferometry tradition. The new instruments are making great efforts to be 'user friendly' but the huge expansion in wavelength coverage, sensitivity and so on presents a grand challenge for the present generation of radio astronomers to update their techniques. It will be ensured that the innovative data reduction methods being developed by other RadioNet3 packages and elsewhere, are employed wherever appropriate. These scientists will, in turn, provide a core of experts to advise the much-expanded next generation of users. The majority of these will simply require a basic understanding of interferometry and associated software, in order to be able to concentrate on the real goal of interpreting the astrophysics, although the instrumental experts of the future have also to be nurtured.
The New Skills NA will provide support to 3 events per year to address the pratical objectives to: an European Radio Interferometry School (ERIS), a Young European Radio Astronomers' Conference (YERAC) and focussed training events.
The leader of this activity is Anita Richards.