In European radio astronomy, a number of significant developments are taking place (e-MERLIN, e-EVN, WSRT upgrade, focal plane arrays, Astrophysical Virtual Observatory, LOFAR, SKA) that will lead to important increases in capabilities, performance and output of radio astronomical facilities. These developments include a significant software effort in order to match the improvements in hardware. There is large overlap between the various projects in relevant software issues with regard to architecture, algorithms and implementation. A forum is required in which common software issues can be discussed and studied. Such a forum would facilitate common approaches and cross fertilization between different groups and would enable various problems to be addressed more efficiently. Workshops will be organized at various RadioNet facilities in turn in order to allow the user community to get involved in the specification and requirements of software.
The objectives of the Software Forum are to facilitate and stimulate coordinated discussion and study of software issues relevant for the European radio astronomical facilities. This is done by:
- creating a number of small working groups of workers and specialists in the field. Each working group studies a particular topic and will produce a report with recommendations.
- organizing small workshops in which these working groups, together with users and other interested people, will discuss the issues.
- organizing short working visits between observatories for targeted discussion of a particular issue
Specific areas of attention are:
- The selection of the most appropriate software package for a given problem. For many applications is it not clear which package is preferred for implementation. What are the criteria to prefer a particular platform for a particular problem? What is the long-range view? Can a consensus view be obtained within the European astronomical community?
- Due to the large data volumes produced by the new facilities, the calibration and reduction software will have to be ported to a cluster environment. How can the various existing algorithms and their implementation best be parallelized. How can Grid infrastructure be utilized? Is a common solution appropriate for all RadioNet facilities?
- All facilities intend to produce advanced data products such as calibrated images and data cubes and offer them to the community. Such data products will have to be produced in an automatic and robust fashion. What are the optimal calibration and reduction strategies?
- Archive access and Virtual Observatory. An important development in astronomy is to allow access to the data archives through the WWW in a standardized way (VO) and to allow the processing of these data on Grid infrastructure. In order to allow homogeneity and interoperability of the radio astronomical archives, a common approach is needed.
- The provision of the opportunity to allow broad discussion of topics being addressed in the JRA2:ALBUS plan, such as wide-field imaging; advanced calibration and the implementation of an end-to-end strategy.
More information can be found on the wiki page SoftwareForumWikiPage.