This effort is connected to currently ongoing international development studies:
- "Advanced Solar Observing Techniques" - A project within the North American Study Plan for Development Upgrades of the ALMA
(PI: T. Bastian, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), USA).
- "Solar Research with ALMA" - A project carried out at the Czech ARC node of European ALMA Regional Center (EU ARC at Ondrejov, Czech Republic) in the frame of the ESO program "Enhancement of ALMA Capabilities/EoC",
(PI: Roman Brajsa, Hvar Observatory, Croatia).
These studies aim at the successful implementation of solar observing modes that are scientifically useful. We set the following key goals for our network activities:
Key goal 1 - Raising awareness of science opportunities with ALMA.
Simulations should anticipate and stimulate the solar physics community in thinking about the science opportunities with ALMA. Such simulations demonstrate what could be possibly observed with ALMA and which scientific problems could therefore be addressed in the future. Many scientific topics, which are currently worked on with other instruments, could possibly also be investigated by using ALMA. Many scientists outside the solar radio community are certainly not fully aware of the opportunities and potential of ALMA. Motivating these colleagues to consider ALMA observations for their research could strengthen the visibility and potential throughput of the solar ALMA community.
Key goal 2 - Clear visibility of solar science within the ALMA community.
Solar observations differ technically from other ALMA observations. Consequently, solar observation runs - apart from initial tests - have been postponed to later observation cycles. We should use the time to demonstrate the wider ALMA community that solar observations have a large potential to produce fascinating and important scientific results and solar observations deserve higher priority than it is currently the case. Simulations have and can produce illustrative results, which not only demonstrate the feasibility of solar applications but which can also be used to make the scientific potential more visible to the wider ALMA community.
Key goal 3 - Constraining ALMA observing modes with numerical simulations.
"Observing simulations", i.e., artificial observations based on numerical models of the solar atmosphere are a valuable tool, which will help to constrain and optimize ALMA observing modes. Such simulations will show what kinds of observations should ALMA perform in order to usefully test science questions and which of these scientific applications are most promising in view of ALMA's wavelength range and angular resolution. Observing simulations should be used to examine relevant issues like observing bands, antenna configuration, pointing strategy (single pointing, mosaic, on-the-fly mapping), time resolution, etc. This step will involve simulating an observation with the instrument and assessing the results (i.e., determine whether a given simulation adequately addresses the science goals). As a result, recommendations regarding the appropriate observing strategy would be made for particular science goals (â€œuse casesâ€). On this basis, the development study groups would then consider how best to implement corresponding supported observing modes. In summary, the observing simulations server two purposes:
- Demonstration of the feasibility of using ALMA to address the science questions raised.
- Definition of the specific requirements that ALMA operations must satisfy in order to successfully support such observations.