Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - MCCT SKADS (Marie Curie Conferences and Training Courses on the Square Kilometre Array Design Studies (SKADS))

The project's main objective was to train a younger community of researchers for the benefit of the new instruments in radio astronomy and most particular for the Square Kilometre Array. Specifically, objectives were
(i) to educate young and less experienced astronomers and technical scientists about SKA(DS), scientific and technological advancements, developments and breakthroughs,
(ii) to provide both young astronomer and young technical scientists with a common "framework" for mutual understanding,
(iii) to provide a coherent training program,
(iv) to create a large (future) basis of European expertise in the fields of SKA(DS) and SKA-enabling technologies, and lastly
(v) to disseminate the advancements and results from SKA(DS) and e.g. LOFAR, especially through knowledge transfer from lead scientists to (young) less experienced scientists.

The programme featured as main components A Schools: Radio Astronomy Fundamentals and the new instruments, B Astronomical workshops: Scientific aspects of SKA(DS), C Technical workshops: Antennas and enabling technologies for SKA(DS), D Mixed workshops: Science and main instruments. The last included a mixed level of practical assignments. MCCT-SKADS has succeeded to involve over 300 persons most of which were eligible early stage and more experienced and of which almost 1/3 were female participants. Participants came from an amazing 46 countries (including US, Canada, S.A. and Australia) of which 19 EC countries.

The MCCT-SKADS events were fully and enthusiastically supported by ten major institutes and universities in six European countries much already involved in the SKA activities. Through the connected schools (three), training, conferences (one) and workshops (seven), platforms were offered to disseminate the most up to date and newly acquired knowledge from actively involved (i.e. in SKA(DS)) more experienced professionals. The events by the "design" of aim and content, promoted extensive cross disciplinary fertilisation from diverse fields like microwave technology, astronomy, digital signal processing and electrical engineering. Also, most material appeared in publishable, accessible form and a 410-page conference books was published. Communication was done broadly through an actively maintained website through which all published material was (and still is) also made available.

The MCC-SKADS emphasis was around key aspects of the Square Kilometre Array (now in its design and development phase) and most pronouncedly on the widefield (phased array) implementation new to radio astronomy. This approach emphasises widefield- and data intensive observing and MCCT-SKADS run largely in parallel with the development of LOFAR and of the FP6 program SKADS. The workshops therefore were fully up-to-date challenging the latest on key aspects of phased array antennas, digital and signal processing aspects and calibration algorithms and techniques. It is rewarding that communities of young people which started in MCCT-SKADS are still very active in the field to day.

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