Final Report Summary - RADIONET-FP7 (Advanced Radio Astronomy in Europe)
As a Co-ordinating activity RadioNet FP7 has been very successful. The consortium grew during the project period as the Shanghai Observatory and the International LOFAR Telescope were added as beneficiaries. In a timeframe where new observatories were built all around the world and the plans and ideas for the SKA reached maturity, RadioNet FP7 paved the way towards developing technologies and software in the Joint Research Activities, providing access to world class facilities and organising and sponsoring major events that allowed knowledge transfer, preparing the radio astronomy community: students, astronomers and engineers for the future.
The RadioNet FP7 project as a Coordinating Infrastructure had work packages in three types of activities:
Trans-National Access (TNA); RadioNet FP7 involved 10 radio astronomy facilities operated by 9 different
institutes, including 2 of the newest generation: SRT and LOFAR. The RadioNet FP7 EC funding
provided access to telescope time via a transparent and well published process. The researchers were offered an integrated, professional and consistent level of support. The number of projects exceeded the planned effort by almost 75 %.
The Joint Research Activities addressed the effectiveness of the existing (and future) radio telescopes in the next decade. AMSTAR+ for mm/sub-mm and APRICOT for cm/mm telescopes contribute to the development of multi-pixel arrays. The projects resulted in prototypes that were tested in exisiting telescopes. Furthermore they enhanced the collaboration in engineering and science on a European scale.
Most prototype devices have demonstrated state-of-the-art performance and some have been or are being duplicated for use on telescopes (IRAM, APEX,STO). The AMSTAR+ JRA has enhanced the collaboration between its participants at the Task level, as well as at the JRA level. An illustration is the joint campaign to measure and compare the performance of supra THz HEB mixers developed in the frame of AMSTAR+, organized at SRON. Another example, is the work on cryogenic low-noise amplifiers (LNAs) that brought together IAF and several radio astronomical institutes and has yielded high performance devices that were used for the prototype receivers
The objectives of ALBiUS (Advanced Long Baseline interoperable User Software) included the development of key algorithms required for the successful exploitation of the upgraded and new generation of RadioNet telescope facilities (eMERLIN, LOFAR, APERTIF, ALMA, e-EVN etc). These new telescopes deliver explosive data rates, and an expansion in the continuum spectral window of one to two orders of magnitude. ALBiUS aimed to produce both new software systems and algorithms that are designed to meet these challenges. The focus was on the production of new algorithms that address issues of calibration (both in the UV and image plane) and sky modelling. The need for identifying bad data and the issue of data quality control in general, was also addressed. In addition, ALBiUS aimed to make good use of existing software packages - the goal was to make these algorithms available in a modern, distributed computing environment, and to provide transparent interoperability between the different software suites. The latter has encouraged a more unified approach to software development in radio astronomy across Europe and beyond.
The UniBoard project, one of the JRAs of RadioNet FP7, aimed to design and develop a generic, high-performance, scalable, FPGA-based computing platform for radio-astronomical applications. Along with the hardware a number of different firmware applications, or board personalities, were to be developed. At the start these included a VLBI and Apertif correlator, a digital receiver and a pulsar-binning machine, with one group implementing RFI mitigation algorithms specifically for the pulsar binning personality. As the project developed and the number of participants grew, an Apertif beam former, an all-dipole LOFAR correlator, RFI mitigation for the digital receiver, a pulsar binning backend for the Effelsberg 100m telescope, a digital receiver for the new 65m Shanghai telescope and a Chinese VLBI network correlator were added to the list, and are currently in various stages of development. More applications are being considered.
The Networking Activities are linking the RadioNet work packages. The Science Working Group organises workshops on the science goals of the facilities but also taking into account different techniques maintaining strong connections with the Training Working Group, giving input to the Joint Research Activities and giving guidance to the specification and capabilities of instrumentation R&D. The Engineering forum aims at enhanced communication, train and enables scientific interactions amongst engineers and in keeping strong links with all RadioNet facilities and JRA’s. Other important goal of the Engineering forum is building a knowledge base for radio astronomy engineering. The Training Working group will educate astronomers with the latest techniques and prepare them for the new instrumentation. Finally the Spectrum Management Working Group will provide a European voice within the regulatory bodies to protect the radio astronomy bands in an increasingly commercialised RFI environment.
Project Context and Objectives:
The RadioNet Integrating Activity has its roots in the EVN, an organization formed by European VLBI institutes in 1980. This cooperation lead to the FP5 Radionet Infrastructure Cooperation Network, followed by RadioNet FP6. The RadioNet FP6 Integrating Activity consortium consisted out of all the leading radio astronomy facilities in Europe. RadioNet FP7 was bulding on this success and bridging the gap between the exisiting infrastructures and the new emerging radio astronomies that became available in the second decade of the second millenium. On the short term LOFAR, ALMA and SRT and on the long term the SKA. If one thing became clear during the execution of RadioNet FP7 it is that radio astronomy has become a global science. This is also reflected in the consortium of RadioNet FP7 that has beside all major European players also NRF (South Africa), NRAO (US), KASI (South Korea) and the Shanghai Observatory of China as its members. The evolution of a European Core to a global network will be the main challenge for the successor of RadioNet FP7 that paved the way towards this.
The principal and specific objectives of RadioNet FP7 are mentioned in the DoW and are:
The principal and specific objectives of RadioNet as mentioned in the DoW are:
- To provide an integrated radio astronomy network which will ensure that European scientists haveaccess to world-class facilities
- To provide an integrated research and development program which will support and enhance Europeanradio astronomy facilities
- To develop a program of networking activities which will ensure close European collaboration in engineering and science, sharing their knowledge and expertise, expandingthe use for the community
- To foster the development of the next generation of astronomers in the use of the current state-of-the-artand future radio astronomy facilities
- To foster the development of the next generation of engineers who will lead the design and constructionof the instruments of the future
- To prepare for the next generation of world-class radio astronomy facilities through a wide discussion of their scientific motivation, through integrated research and development initiatives and through the planning of the future structure of European radio astronomy
- To promote public knowledge of radio astronomy and public understanding of science.
These objectives are realized in an integrated nature:
1. Trans National Access (TNA); RadioNet FP7 involves 10 radio astronomy facilities on 9 different institutes, including 2 of the newest generation: SRT and LOFAR. The RadioNet FP7 EC funding ensures that the access is provided on a transparent process and that researchers are offered an integrated, professional and consistent level of support.
2. The Joint Research Activities are inter-dependent as they all address the effectiveness of the existing (and future) radio telescopes in the next decade. AMSTAR+ for mm/sub-mm and APRICOT for cm/mm telescopes contribute to the development of multi-pixel arrays. The large volume of data produced by these arrays will require a flexible and powerful backend developed in UniBoard. A digital processing board that will enhance the signal processing of existing and future telescopes offering a wide range of functionality: spectroscopy, pulsar search, high resolution interferometry. The ALBiUS software program will develop software tools that are needed to fully use the capabilities of new and upgraded telescopes.
3. The Networking Activities are linking the RadioNet work packages. The Science Working Grouporganizes workshops on the science goals of the facilities but als taking into account different techniques maintaining strong connections with the Training Working Group, giving input to the Joint Research
Activities and giving guidance to the specification and capabilities of instrumentation R&D. The Engineering forum aims at enhanced communication, train and enables scientific interactions amongst engineers and in keeping strong links with all RadioNet facilities and JRA’s. Other important goal of the Engineering forum is building a knowledge base for radio astronomy engineering. The Training Working group will educate astronomers with the latest techniques and prepare them for the new instrumentation.
Finally the Spectrum Management Working Group will provide a European voice within the regulatory bodies to protect the radio astronomy bands in an increasingly commercialized RFI environment.
This report contains an overview of the main achievements of the Networking Activities and the Joint Research Activities. The outcomes of the TNA can be found in the publication list in this report and in the follow-up report of RadioNet3.
The RadioNet networking activities (NA) are designed to enhance the coordination and co-operation of the RadioNet partners and of the European radio astronomers as a whole. They also promote the science performed with the facilities, help develop the next generation of astronomers and engineers and provide essential fora for engineering and technical aspects. All of the NAs have had a significant impact on radio astronomy over the entire duration of the programme.
There are four Networking Activities defined each focusing on a different interest group thereby maintaining and encouraging interaction between these groups. The main focus on the Science Working Group (WP2) is organising a series of workshops focusing on further development of strong links between RadioNet and the wider astronomical community, and to ensure that the results of RadioNet activities, in particular gained through access to the TNA radio telescope facilities, are presented to the widest possible audience. The Engineering Forum (WP3) focuses on enhancing the communication, training and scientific interactions amongst engineers mainly but not exclusively from RadioNet facilities and Joint Research Activities, ensuring information exchange on a wide variety of subjects. A third networking activity concentrates on the Training for Radio Astronomers (WP4). It educates astronomers in the latest techniques and instrumentation developed and used at the RadioNet facilities and beyond by supporting schools and workshops on a variety of subjects. As the radio facilities operate in an increasingly commercialized RFI environment, the Spectrum Management (WP5) networking activity continued the work done to provide a European voice within the regulatory bodies to protect the radio astronomy bands.
WP2: Science Working Group
Introduction - Goals of the networking activity
The goals of the Science Working Group in FP7 – RadioNet are manyfold, and spread from sharing new results and achievements, to cross–fertilization and training. In particular, the most important objectives of this networking activity are: (1) to disseminate the scientific developments and highlights in radio astronomy; (2) to strengthen the connections between RadioNet and the wider astronomical community, and ensure that the scientific results related to the RadioNet activities (in particular those associated with access to the TNA radio telescope facilities) are presented to the widest possible audience; (3) to foster the relations between beginners in radio astronomy and the more experienced users; (4) to prepare the radio astronomical community to the use of the new generation radio interferometers, such as LOFAR and ALMA.
Finally, two major achievements of WP2 are (a) the coordination of the link between radio astronomy and the new frontier technology (new generation of radio telescopes and other technological developments), and (b) the coordination with the Training Working Group to provide support to training schools and work/busy weeks.
These goals have been fulfilled through the organization and sponsorship of a wide range of scientific meetings, such as large conferences addressing a wide range of the astrophysical research , well-focused topic orientated workshops, and small meetings.
The support of young people has always been privileged, and geographical and gender issues have always been taken into full account in the selection and distribution of the RadioNet resources.
Each event supported undert NA2/WP2 has resulted in deliverables, such as conference proceedings (either hard copy or electronically published), and on-line availability of oral and poster presentations. This ensures that the scientific activity promoted through RadioNet remains available to the whole community.
The Science Working Group programme addressed the needs in four different scientific areas:
• Astrophysics at centimetre and metre wavelengths
• Early Science with ALMA
• Science with LOFAR
• European Pulsar Timing Array initiatives.
WP3: European Radio Astronomy Engineering Forum
Work progress and achievements during the period
WP3: The European Radio Astronomy Engineering Forum focused on enhancing the commu¬nication, training and scientific interaction amongst engineers and technicians. The primary goal of this activity was to bring together engineers working in European radio astronomy institutions, where many engineering activities are taking place to equip and refurbish the various facilities in Europe with state of the art instrumentation.
The main objective of the WP3 of the RadioNet-FP7 project was the organisation and support of meetings and workshops of European radio astronomy engineers and other partners in related academic and industrial environments. This was done in 3 tasks:
(1) Engineering Forum – which brought together radio astronomy engineers to exchange results and expertise and to convey cooperation,
(2) Technical Operation Group (TOG) – which enhanced collaboration and performance amongst EVN stations via information exchange, training, development of standards and planning of technical improvements,
(3) Database – which collected information and describe relevant technical facilities and engineering capabilities.
(1) Engineering Forum:
The Engineering Forum offered a platform for discussions, exchange of knowledge and cooperation on instrumentation issues relevant to the European radio astronomical facilities with a goal of making full use of possible synergies. The Engineering Forum provided a single point of contact, and pools of knowledge resources by organising meetings and thus fostering multiple personal contacts, thus a multiple-effort problem could be avoided. The offered workshops topics defined by the Scientific Organising Committee (SOC) addressed the most relevant radio astronomical problems, what was demonstrated by the high participant numbers.
Four Engineering Workshops have been organised in the last 18 months of the RadioNet-FP7 project (see Table 1), twice as many as initially intended. All workshops’ talks were made publicly available with the approval and permission of the speakers.
The emphasis of the 4th Engineering Forum workshop (EW) was an intensive discussion on the photonics in radio astronomy with the outline on the SKA and the corresponding needs for data links. Data rates from 80Gbps for the WBSP dishes up to more than 16Tbps for the dense phase arrays are required. First results on the newest development in the South African demonstrator (MeerKAT) presented the hardware of a riser cable system from the pedestal to the dish developed together with a local company. In addition an industry view on the SKA data transport challenge showed that industry is prepared for the 100Gbps data rate and offers contribution in the decision process towards an optimal system for the SKA. The 5th Workshop updated the overview of the actual array & receiver projects in the world. The panel discussions stressed the impact of blind surveys on new discoveries. Overall a discussion on technology (MMICs over MICs) dominated the meeting. It was stressed that for large arrays the MIC technology tends to be preferable due to cost and repeatability although MIC performance is still not achieved by MMICs. Providing MMICs at room temperature is very well established and cryo components are emerging with very promising performance. Additionally some issues of packaging MMICs and increasing the integration density with multi functional modules were reported.
The 6th EW was focused on two of the contemporary theories of 1/f noise. The latest research in gain fluctuations, a variety of details contributing to 1/f noise of receiver and first of all LNA stability were the main topics. Another interesting point was the influence of passivation of chips and their influence on performance and repeatability. The 7th EW focused on optical data transmission for the growing demand on radio astronomy. The workshop reviewed current R&D trends in radio-astronomical data analysis and their convergence with the FP7/FP8 ICT roadmaps. The topics covered astronomy and space science applications and dealt with the technologies being investigated in projects ranging from electronic Very Long Baseline Interferometry (e-VLBI) to the SKA (Square Kilometre Array). Future paradigms for information processing up to the Exabyte and Exaflop regime have been discussed in collaboration with major industrial partners.
This networking activity clearly reached its goal to bring together people, foster communication and exchange of know-how between European institutes and thus ensure state-of-the-art European radio-astronomical instrumentation. New cooperation were initiated with the clear aims to support the community and the SKA. Furthermore, dedicated inputs to other RadioNet-FP7 JRAs were generated, i.e. the APRICOT project, where many of the reported issues found input.
In the future a wider community should be addressed such as young engineers, instrumentation oriented scientists and other engineers working outside of radio astronomy. This would settle the knowledge achieved on a wider basis and inspire other, ingenious ideas in the instrumentation designers.
More details on the Engineering Forum workshops can be found on the RadioNet FP7 Engineering Forum Wiki page: http://www.radionet-eu.org/fp7wiki/doku.php?id=na:engineering
(2) EVN TOG
Under RadioNet-FP7 the EVN-TOG has continued its successful work where the regular TOG meetings serve as crystallization points where information is exchanged, activities synchronised, and training offered for the engineering personnel of the EVN telescopes, which are responsible for enabling and operating VLBI observations in the framework of the European VLBI Network. Some representatives from very distant EVN observatories and US partners joined via video-conferencing and teleconferencing, even though attendance at the face-to-face meetings is still highly preferable for discussions, informational exchange, and training.
Two EVN-TOG meetings were organised during the period of this report.
The emphasis of the 4th TOG Meeting was the improvement of the reliability (reducing data loss) and amplitude calibration. A more tutorial topic was the installation and operation of the DBBCs which has become very important as EVN telescopes are in the process of replacing the old analog hardware with the new digital backends (DBBC). Informational topics at the meeting were developments in e-VLBI, 2 and 4 Gbps recording, and new developments in data recording at very high bitrates. Actions resulting from the meeting covered a wide range of subjects from requests for distributing information to the community over organisational matters to request for activities at the EVN stations.
The last EVN-TOG was scheduled at the Arecibo observatory (USA). A major motivation for having a TOG meeting at this distant EVN location was to support them as EVN telescope and strengthen their standing in a phase of big budgetary problems. Unfortunately this meeting was affected by adverse weather conditions so that not all participants could attend. Nevertheless the meeting was very successful in bringing together engineers and scientists in a special workshop where exciting talks on science done with the EVN and new technical developments were offered:
History of the EVN and outlook to 2015 – Mantovani
Science done with the EVN – Mantovani
VLBI equipment upgrade at Arecibo – Gosh
Geodetic VLBI2010 plans – Neidhardt
Hardware developments in VLBI – Whitney
The Event Horizon Telescope – Whitney
VLBI developments in China – Zhao
The highlights of the TOG Meetings was the DBBC and its successful use in Europe (e.g. 2 Gbps fringes in Europe (Ef-On) using the DBBC in PfB mode). There is a worldwide demand for DBBCs in particular in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Additionally the compatibility between the US RDBE and the DBBC in polyphase filterbank mode and the worries about the US RDBE and its lack of tunability at this time were important points on the agenda. The participants of the TOG meetings are the ‘thinktank’ for the further development of the e.g. the VDIF format for VLBI data, stability and reliability issues of Mark 5C, and the new Mark 6 recorders.
Fostering the collaboration and improving the communication between VLBI personnel at EVN telescopes were the general goals of the TOG and they were fully achieved. Additionally video-conferencing of the meeting was offered to allow engineers from distant telescopes and US partners to participate in the TOG meetings. This is of particular importance for European and global planning of technical improvements and future upgrades at EVN stations. The first TOG Workshop organised at Arecibo brought world-wide scientists and engineers together by offering fascinating talks on science done with the EVN and new technical developments (see: http://www.mpifr-bonn.mpg.de/div/vlbicor/tog_chair/togreps11-2/).
WP4: Training for Radio Astronomers
Work progress and achievements during the period
Our main goals were to support events providing training for radio astronomers using European and other facilities. This was accomplished through supporting 3 main, planned events per year and more modest support to other events:
(1) Young European Radio Astronomers Conferences, held in Porto, Henares and Manchester. Each event attracted 25-50 participants, all early-career radio astronomers and engineers, who gave all the talks apart from a single information session on major instruments or projects.
(2) Radio interferometry schools, held in Oxford, IRAM Grenoble and Rimini. These each attracted about 100 participants and cover all aspects of radio interferometry, from the longest wavelengths (e.g. LOFAR) to the shortest (e.g. ALMA), with material suitable for beginners and optional advanced technique sessions.
(3) Two IRAM 30-m single-dish schools were held plus a Solar summer school under the auspices of CESRA. These were attended by 20-40 participants, limited to the number is was possible to accommodate for hands-on observing.
(4) We contributed modestly to a number of other events providing training in the data reduction package CASA, in LOFAR data reduction and cm-wave single-dish observing and for radio interferometry observational training sessions at science-focussed workshops.
YERAC 2010 YERAC 2011
The web site www.yerac.org was set up to coordinate information and link to the annual web sites. YERAC has been running since 1968 and information on previous sessions as well as current and future presentations are linked, and information to help future planners.
The attendance at the radio interferometry schools has increased every year and the on-line tutorials receive a significant number of hits throughout the year.
The schools provide lectures and hands-on data reduction and a well-received innovation, a session to form collaborations and prepare mock observing proposals for science projects developed by the participants.
The hands-on single-dish summer schools are popular.
The proceedings of the CESRA workshop are in the process of publication by Springer-Verlag.
1.1.1 WP5: Spectrum Management
188.8.131.52 Support of CRAF :
CRAF has met three times during the reporting period in accordance with the description of work and WP5 has partially supported the travel of members to these meetings and paid the expenses to local organizers hosting the CRAF meetings. Travel support was granted in 37 cases to participants of the CRAF meetings.
Education and Global Collaboration (covering the full period 2009-2011)
• two CRAF newsletters per year are sent to Institutes, administrations and agencies. They are available on the CRAF website under http://www.craf.eu/newsltr.htm and contain information about current issues in radio astronomical spectrum management and technical aspects of rfi assessment and protection.
• Spectrum Policy Conference: The CRAF chairman gave a presentation titled 'Natural Limits To Flexibility' at the 2009 Public Sector Spectrum Conference in Brussels (April 21-22). The conference agenda is available at: http://www.policytracker.com/conferences/the-public-sector-spectrum-conference/public-sector-conference-agenda
• The International Spectrum Management Summer school was was finally held in Japan (31.5.-4.6.2010). WP5 supported the attendance of two European lecturers and three students at the summer school. CRAF members gave presentations: THOMASSON (about CRAF, another on RFID); BAAN (UWB devices). The presentations are available on http://www.iucaf.org/SSS2010/.
• RadioNet Board meetings in Amsterdam Calgari and Cape Town: The CRAF chair and his deputy gave presentations about Spectrum matters and CRAF at the last two RadioNet board meetings. Details are in the minutes of the RadioNet Board meetings.
• CRAF chairman (Jessner) gave a presentation about radio astronomical spectrum management and the role of CRAF at the ESF general assembly in Strasbourg (18.11.2010 funded by ESF).
• The CRAF chairman was invited by URSI commission E (spectrum management) to give a presentation on 'Conservation of spectrum for scientific services,- the radio astronomical perspective' at the URSI General Assembly in Istanbul Turkey, August 13-20, 2011.
• Regular consultations by correspondence or teleconferences are held with representatives of IUCAF, RAFCAP and CORF on spectrum matters.
• Common monitoring and assessment schemes A common standard and a a freely accessible web-page have been implemented at present and are available on the web. An overview of the database is also described in CRAF Newsletter 21. Test measurements using a simple and inexpensive monitoring equipment have been undertaken in the Czech republic. A report has been finished and will be published in the next CRAF newsletter (in press). Guidelines for radio compatibility assessments of wind power devices near radio observatories have been developed.
Envisaged Activities beyond 2011,- deliverables not attained (within the given period 2009 – 2011) .
The World Radio Conference (WRC-12) of the ITU planned for 2010, but had been postponed by the ITU until 23 January-17 February 2012. There are about 20 regulatory issues of vital interest for radio astronomy and final decisions will be taken at the WRC-12. The issues are dealt with in parallel sessions which require more than one person to attend the WRC-12 at any time to ensure the representation and constructive intervention on behalf of European radio astronomy. The CRAF FM will attend and coordinate CRAF activities, out of the separate FM funding, and needs to be supported by additional CRAF members during the conference. Travel and in particular accommodation for several weeks in Geneva, will involve a considerable expense (about EUR 1500-2000 per week), a heavy burden for individual observatories. This expense is for the common representation of radio astronomy at the WRC-12. Had the WRC-12 been held as planned, funding would have been available within the allocated time window. However, for reasons beyond our control, this is not the case and the meeting is scheduled just outside the time window, but still inside the accounting frame of the current period. CRAF therefore asked for travel support for CRAF members at the WRC-12 to the order of the WP5 funds that remain at the end of 2011.
The objectives of ALBiUS (Advanced Long Baseline interoperable User Software) are to develop key algorithms required for the successful exploitation of the upgraded and new generation of RadioNet telescope facilities (eMERLIN, LOFAR, APERTIF, ALMA, e-EVN etc). These new telescopes deliver explosive data rates, and an expansion in the continuum spectral window of one to two orders of magnitude. ALBiUS aimed to produce both new software systems and algorithms that are designed to meet these challenges. The focus was on the production of new algorithms that address issues of calibration (both in the UV and image plane) and sky modelling. The need for identifying bad data and the issue of data quality control in general, was also addressed. In addition, ALBiUS aimed to make good use of existing software packages - the goal was to make these algorithms available in a modern, distributed computing environment, and to provide transparent interoperability between the different software suites. The latter will encourage a more unified approach to software development in radio astronomy across Europe and beyond.
1.1.2 WP7: AMSTAR+
The 4 main goals of the AMSTAR+ JRA, namely the design and fabrication of:
Task 1) a prototype cryogenic HEMT MMIC amplifier, capable of covering most of the 3-mm band,
Tasks 2&3) prototype wide-band 2SB SIS mixers with small footprints, suited for integration in large 2-d FPAs and operating around 1-mm wavelength (Task2) and 0.5 mm wavelength (Task3),
Task 4) prototype low noise HEB mixer amplifiers, operating above 1.5 THz,
have been achieved, even though some of the 18 subtasks did not yield the expected results and/or were not used in the final prototypes devices. Most prototype devices have demonstrated state of the art performance and some have been or are being duplicated for use on telescopes (IRAM, APEX, STO). From this, we can conclude that the AMSTAR+ JRA has met its goals. Further developments in the line of the four main AMSTAR+ Task will be pursued in the frame of the JRA AETHER that is just starting.
The AMSTAR+ JRA has enhanced the collaboration between its participants at the Task level, as well as at the JRA level. An illustration is the joint campaign to measure and compare the performance of supra THz HEB mixers developed in the frame of AMSTAR+, organized in Nov 2010 at SRON. Another example, is the work on cryogenic low-noise amplifiers (LNAs) that brought together IAF and several radio astronomical institutes and has yielded high performance devices that were used for the prototype receivers in Tasks 1, 2 and 3.
1.1.3 WP8: APRICOT
There are two main objectives of WP8 “APRICOT” (All Purpose Radio Imaging Cameras On Telescopes).
1. to develop the design and the sub-system technology for large-format focal-plane “radio cameras” for astronomical observations in the scientifically-rich range 33-50 GHz. Multi-pixel cameras, able to change observing mode at the flick of a switch, will greatly increase the operational efficiency of the host telescope and enable users to carry out hitherto impossibly large sky surveys. An all-purpose continuum and spectroscopic polarization receiver, covering an instantaneous band of 33-50 GHz, goes well beyond other systems and opens up many science applications. The frequency range 33-50 GHz is relatively poorly-explored and lies in the gap between the frequencies which will be covered by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and ALMA. The scientific targets include: molecular studies of star-forming regions & circumstellar envelopes: the search for new molecules in the Interstellar Medium; the study of molecular emission (in particular CO) from high redshift galaxies; surveys for new extragalactic sources: continuum surveys of The Milky Galaxy; surveys of galaxy clusters via their Sunyaev-Zeldovich decrements. The performance targets and science goals of APRICOT were validated by the three internationally-attended “Related Workshops” listed in the MTR report.
2. to secure the availability of state-of-the-art High Electron Mobility Transistors (HEMTs) and Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMIC) devices from within Europe. A long-standing problem for European radioastronomy is that the supply of low-noise devices is currently dominated by US companies and is subject to ITAR regulations. Establishing a European source of state-of-the-art semiconductor devices, both for low noise amplifiers and for integrating other components such as mixers, power amplifiers, phase switches etc, is important for the future health of European radio astronomy with spin-off potential into other arenas (e.g. space).
1.1.4 WP9: UniBoard
The UniBoard project, one of the JRAs of RadioNet FP7, kicked off on January 1, 2009. Its aim was to design and develop a generic, high-performance, scalable, FPGA-based computing platform for radio-astronomical applications. Along with the hardware a number of different firmware applications, or board personalities, were to be developed. At the start these included a VLBI and Apertif correlator, a digital receiver and a pulsar-binning machine, with one group implementing RFI mitigation algorithms specifically for the pulsar binning personality. As the project developed and the number of participants grew, an Apertif beam former, an all-dipole LOFAR correlator, RFI mitigation for the digital receiver, a pulsar binning backend for the Effelsberg 100m telescope, a digital receiver for the new 65m Shanghai telescope and a Chinese VLBI network correlator were added to the list, and are currently in various stages of development. More applications are being considered.
The RadioNet Networking Activities strengthened the scientific community and prepared young and experienced astronomers for the challenges of the new instruments coming available in the next decade. The outreach program, although modest in its implementation, brought together the outreach officers of all the major European radio astronomy facilities. The platform will grow and the collaboration will allow for a better understanding of the science by the public and more support for astronomy in general.
The Engineering working group creates a platform that allows for unique cross-fertilization in the "niche" technologies essential to radio astronomy while the spectrum management group is an essential lobby for keeping observing gaps in the overcrowded RF-spectrum. An crucial boundary condition for radio astronomy.
The TNA program allows researchers to use the most advanced and modern instruments currently available. It truly creates a European infrastructure for Radio astronomy, by lowering thresholds accessing facilities and by supporting the research financially. The result is a strong European network of radio astronomy facilities and a European radio astronomy community that is ready for the challenge of the next decade when radio astronomy turns global when large facilities such as ALMA and SKA will start.
The Research activities result in advanced software for processing the large data sets from the new instruments. The hardware programs were highly successful. A unique and powerfull processing board (both in computing power and data rate) that will be applied in the Shanghai Observatory and the LOFAR telescope as a correlator, but that also allows for pulsar processing, RFi migitagion processing and therefore gained attention from many observatories across the world. By combining knowledge and engineering power across Europe the AMSTAR+ program developed prototypes for a number of European telescopes, APRICOT was also highly succesfull, but its major achievement was the establishment of a European source of state-of-the-art semiconductor devices: (for High Electron Mobility Transistors (HEMTs) and Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMIC) devices) is important for the future health of European radio astronomy with spin-off potential into other arenas (e.g. space).
Summarizing: RadioNet brings together European (and global) astronomers and engineers by facilitating knowledge exchange, stimulating research both in astronomy and astronomy instrumentation and sotfware, giving access to world class radio astronomy facilities. While at the same time guarding the RF-spectrum for astronomy use and creating and enlarging public support for research in radio astronomy. The core knowledge that is preserved and created in this unique community has a spin-off to many other fields of industry of which the preservation of a European source for HEMT AND MMIC devices is a prime example.
List of Websites: