France

Maison SKA-France joins SKA Organisation

Following approval by the Board of Directors of the SKA Organisation, July 26, 2018 saw the announcement of Maison SKA-France, lead by CNRS, becoming the 12th member of the SKA Organisation.

After the publication of the French SKA White Book in October 2017, the kick-off meeting of the new research and industry consortium named “Maison SKA-France” (MSF) in February 2018 and the inscription of the SKA as a project in the French Roadmap for Research Infrastructures in May 2018, this represents another important milestone of the last 12 months for the French participation to the SKA project.

SKA-France / TANGO meeting

The software toolkit TANGO Controls, developed at European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in collaboration with several other scientific institutions in Europe, has been selected as the control framework for the SKA.

In this context, on April 5, 2018, the TANGO consortium coordination and SKA-France organised a joint meeting hosted by ESRF in Grenoble, to discuss the future TANGO-related activities and developments of interest for the SKA and radio astronomical applications.

The meeting, started with an overview of both TANGO (by J.-M. Chaize, TANGO Consortium Coordinator) and SKA-France (by C. Ferrari, MSF Director), included a presentation of the SKA Project Management by N. Rees (SKAO Head of Computing and Software) and a detailed view of the SKA Control System by L. Pivetta (SKAO Control System Software Specialist).

Participants from different research institutes (CNRS/INSU, IRAM, Synchrotron Soleil, Observatoire de Paris, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, ESRF) and private companies (Thales Services, Nexeya France, JYSE), already involved or interested in the SKA and/or TANGO, finally illustrated their current or potential activities in the two projects. Possible ideas to develop further collaborations were discussed.

The meeting ended with an exciting visit of the ESRF infrastructures.

Meeting between SKA France and New Zealand SKA Alliance

Following the fruitful discussions between SKA-France and NZ SKA Alliance representatives during the “New Zealand annual Computing for SKA” Colloquium, Andrew Ensor (Director of NZ SKA Alliance) and Piers Harding (Senior Consultant, Catalyst IT) were invited by Maison SKA-France at CNRS Headquarters in Paris on April 13, 2018.

The main objective of the meeting was to mutually illustrate and discuss the current status of SKA computing and further current activities related to the optimisation of innovative algorithms for SKA data processing.

SKA-France meeting with Thales Services

On May 3, 2018, the Director of SKA-France and the French SKA ILO have been invited by Thales Services to visit the company Headquarters in Toulouse (France). The aim of this first meeting was to illustrate and exchange about mutual interests on the scientific and technological challenges of the SKA project, with a particular focus on the full data chain (including acquisition, control, processing, storage, transport, quality, maintenance).

The strong interest of Thales Services for the SKA project is also testified by the participation of the company to the ASTRON Hackathon for SKA, organised on April 23 and 24, 2018 by the Dutch institute ASTRON (Dwingeloo, NL).

SKA-France meeting with CNIM group

After the strong interest expressed by the group CNIM to the SKA project and to SKA-France activities (see SKA-France bulletin of last April), the SKA-France Director and the French SKA ILO met several representatives of the group on May 15, 2018.

The meeting was organised to illustrate the expertise of the group in equipment manufacturing in details, with possible SKA-related applications in the fields of dish production, cooling and energy provision.

A visit of two sites (CNIM in Toulon and Bertin Technologies in Aix-En-Provence) allowed to efficiently illustrate the vast variety of applications of the group in different technological markets (environment, energy, defence and high technology).

SKA Day at LAM

An SKA Day was held at Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille (LAM) on May 16, 2018. The meeting, was organised by LAM together with CNRS/INSU and SKA-France, and saw the support and participation of competitiveness clusters OPTITEC, SCS and CapEnergies.

The meeting started with an overview of the SKA scientific, technological and organisational perspectives, as well as with a presentation of Maison SKA-France, by the SKA-France Director, the French delegate at SKAO meetings and the French SKA ILO. Speakers from both private companies and research laboratories within the Marseille region illustrated their potential interest in the SKA project during the afternoon.

All the talks (slides and videos) are on-line at the meeting web page.

Face-to-Face meeting of the SKA StratCom in Paris

The last face-to-face meeting of the SKA “Strategy And Business Development Committee” (StratCom) was hosted by Paris Observatory on June 5 and 6, 2018, with local support of M. Pérault (Scientific Delegate at CNRS/INSU and member of the Maison SKA-France Board).

CNIM: a new member of Maison SKA-France

After having expressed its strong support through a letter of interest sent to the SKA-France Director in April 2018, the company CNIM has recently joined the Maison SKA-France, following unanimous approval of MSF Board Members on July 2nd, 2018.

SKA at the SF2A meeting

Great attention was paid to the SKA project and its pathfinder and precursor telescopes during the annual meeting of the French Society of Astronomy & Astrophysics (SF2A), which was held in Bordeaux from July 3 to July 6, 2018.

During the whole meeting, plenary session presentations were held in the mornings, while the afternoons saw parallel sessions on specific topics and research domains. On the mornings of July 5 and July 6, respectively, C. Ferrari (OCA) presented the MSF and the activities of the French community towards the SKA project, while S. Corbel (AIM and Paris Observatory) and C. Tasse (Paris Observatory) illustrated the important French implication in SKA pathfinder and precursor projects, with particular attention to the first results of the LOFAR survey at 150 MHz.

In the afternoon of July 5, a workshop (“SKA, its French pathfinder NenuFAR and its precursors”) was organised by the Action Spécifique SKA-LOFAR, which allowed to get an overview of the wide variety of low-frequency radio astronomy related activities in France: from the development of new simulation and data reduction methods, to the analysis and interpretation of both numerical and observational results, without of course forgetting the technological developments and the conception of new instruments.


Report provided by Chiara Ferrari