The Members of the SKA Organisation have agreed on a dual site solution for the Square Kilometre Array telescope.
The ASKAP and MeerKAT precursor dishes will be incorporated into Phase one of the SKA.
All the dishes for Phase two will be built in Southern Africa.
All the low frequency aperture arrays will be built in Australia.
All the mid frequency aperture arrays will be built in Southern Africa.
Detailed information about the site selection process can be found in the site documentation.
|Phase one||Phase two|
|Number of antennas||Site||Number of antennas||Site|
|Dishes (0.45–3 GHz)||190 (+64 MeerKAT dishes)||South Africa|
|60 (+36 ASKAP dishes)||Australia|
|Dishes (0.45–10 GHz)||3 000||Southern Africa|
|Low frequency aperture array stations (0.07–0.45 GHz)||50||Australia||250||Australia|
|Mid frequency aperture array stations (0.4–1.4 GHz)||250||Southern Africa|
Site selection criteria
The following are some of the criteria that were taken into account:
- Radio frequency interference from mobile phones, TVs, radios and other electrical devices.
- The characteristics of the ionosphere (the upper part of the Earth’s atmosphere) and the troposphere (the lower part of the Earth’s atmosphere).
- Physical characteristics of the site including climate and subsurface temperatures.
- Connectivity across the vast extent of the telescope itself as well as to communications networks for worldwide distribution of data produced by the SKA.
- Infrastructure costs, including power supply and distribution.
- Operations and maintenance costs.
- The long term sustainability of the site as a radio quiet zone.
History of the site selection process
Following a request by the International SKA Steering Committee (ISSC) to the global radio astronomy community for initial site analyses of potential locations for the SKA, six responses were received over the course of 2003 and 2004. After careful evaluation of these responses by the Site Evaluation Working Group (SEWG), the ISSC accepted the following five countries as candidate locations for the SKA: Argentina, Australia, China, South Africa, and the USA. Subsequently, the USA withdrew its bid for the SKA site leaving the other four countries as contenders.
The Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy (ASTRON) was contracted by the International SKA Project Office (ISPO) to carry out Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) calibration measurements for a month at each of the candidates sites from March 2005 to late 2005. The candidates sites themselves also performed RFI measurements over a period of 1 year.
Proposals for siting the SKA were received from the four candidates sites on 31 December 2005. Following a period of evaluation of the proposals and having taken account of the advice of an independent panel called the International SKA Site Advisory Committee, the ISSC decided that the short-list of acceptable sites for the SKA will comprise Australia and Southern Africa.
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