RadioNet Networking Activities
The networking component of any I3 underpins the ethos of the whole activity. It acts as the glue that holds together the consortium; it provides the cross-fertilization that lies at the heart of the idea behind an I3 and also generates the concept of a group culture for the partners.
RadioNet will have 7 networking activities (not including management). Briefly these are:
- N1: Management of RadioNet
- N2: Synergy: a working group on RadioNet facility integration
- N3: Science Workshop and Training Group
- N4: European Radio Astronomy Engineering Forum
- N5: Software and Users Forum
- N6: ALMA Forum
- N7: Astronomy across Europe
- N8: Radio frequency management
- communication between people: activities N3, N4, N5 and N6
- communication between facilities: activities N2 and N8
- options for the future: activities N7
The networking activities are designed to enhance the co-ordination and co-operation of the RadioNet facilities. This is turn will provide a revolution in the level of access and support available to users of the facilities.
Cm-wave facilities have had a significant level of mutual co-ordination for a number of years through their membership of the European VLBI Network (EVN). The EVN has brought together, in a bottom-up fashion and through a strong desire to perform better science, the VLBI-capable observatories. This has resulted in excellent co-operation, with very visible benefits, of the VLBI science groups within the institutes and also of the VLBI engineering staff at the telescopes. However, this has not translated into a more general interaction of other staff, especially those involved in engineering. Therefore, through the opportunities involved in two of the fora mentioned above we hope to bring the engineering staff together to discuss issues of interest to them all:
- the engineering forum (activity N4) will enable development engineers of all types (receivers, digital, mechanical, software) to get together to discuss common problems and their solutions; innovative approaches to engineering problems; to present results on the projects at individual laboratories etc.
- those who maintain, support and develop user facilities rarely have a chance to talk to colleagues at other institutes and to share ideas on best practice and common solutions. The Synergy activity (N2) will offer such people the opportunity to visit other facilities, to get to know their opposite numbers and to learn how problems, which arise at all facilities, are solved elsewhere.
In a similar manner, the science workshops and training activities (N3, N6) will enable the exchange of scientific results, ideas and innovation amongst the existing user community; and the fostering of the next generation of users through the organization of annual science meetings for young astronomers and the running of schools designed to educate users in the techniques required for radio astronomy.
The Synergy activity is also designed to promote the investigation and adoption of common user proposal tools and standards of user support. One aim is to enable users to propose to use any of the RadioNet facilities in a straight-forward and transparent manner and, once time is granted, for them to experience a coherent level of user support at whichever of the facilities they observe.
RadioNet must also consider the future. Activities N7 is designed to enable us to discuss and construct a view of what that future might look like. This will enable the exchange of ideas on the future large-scale facilities for European astronomers and on the future of astronomy within the EU Framework programmes. Finally, interference is always with us and a challenge is for radio astronomy to continue to thrive in the future. Activity N8 (Spectrum Management) will enable a more efficient, European-wide focus on the issues and the solutions.