The Square Kilometre Array will provide a million square metres of collecting area. This huge increase in scale demands a revolutionary break from traditional radio telescope design.
Three types of antennas (radio wave receptors): dishes, mid frequency aperture arrays and low frequency aperture arrays, will be used by the SKA to provide continuous frequency coverage from 70 MHz to 10 GHz. Combining the signals from the antennas will create a telescope with a collecting area equivalent to a dish with an area of about one square kilometre.
Built over two sites in Australia and Southern Africa, the SKA will achieve both high sensitivity and high resolution images by having antennas densely distributed in the central region of the arrays and then positioned in clusters along five spiral arms – the clusters will become more widely spaced further away from the centre.
A phased approach: The construction of the SKA will be phased. Phase one (SKA1) will constitute about 10% of the array and will include dishes and low frequency aperture arrays. Phase two (SKA2) will extend the array with mid frequency aperture arrays and dishes. The phased construction of the telescope will mean that the SKA can start operating before construction is completed.
Phase 1: 2016 – 2020. Phase 2: 2020 – 2024.
The SKA will drive technology development particularly in information and communication technology.
Spin off innovations in this area will benefit other systems that process large volumes of data from geographically dispersed sources. The energy requirements of the SKA also present an opportunity to accelerate technology development in scalable renewable energy generation, distribution, storage and demand reduction.
Pivotal SKA technology is being demonstrated with a suite of precursor and pathfinder telescopes and with design studies by SKA groups around the world. Key SKA technologies will be determined from these and many solutions will be selected and integrated into the final instrument.
|Frequency range||70 MHz to 10 GHz|
|Sensitivity area / system temperature||5 000 m²/K (400 μJy in 1 minute) between 70 and 300 MHz|
|Survey figure-of-merit||4×107 – 2×1010 m4K-2 deg2 depending on sensor technology and frequency|
|Field-of-view||200 square degrees between 70 and 300 MHz1-200 square degrees between 0.3 and 1 GHz1 square degree maximum between 1 and 10 GHz|
|Angular resolution||<0.1 arcsecond|
|Instantaneous bandwidth||Band centre ± 50%|
|Spectral (frequency) channels||16 384 per band per baseline|
|Calibarated polarisation purity||10 000:1|
|Synthesised image dynamic range||>1 000 000|
|Imaging processor computation||1018 operations/second|
|Final processed data output||10 GB/second|
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