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Progress towards final design of the world’s largest radio telescope

Friday 20 November 2015, SKA Organisation HQ – Returning engineers and participants from the 3rd SKA Engineering Meeting concur in praising a productive and positive set of discussions that have moved the global Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project another step forward. The meeting was held in Penticton, Canada last week in partnership with the Canadian National Research Centre. More than 230 participants from 16 countries travelled to attend the week long event.

“The meeting was excellent with stimulating talks and many cross- and inter-consortia interactions. I’m pleased, impressed and excited about the progress in the design activities” said Prof. Philip Diamond, Director-General of the SKA Organisation “SKA is a project on the move.”

The SKA Project is now in the pre-construction phase with 11 Consortia carrying out design work to enable the project to enter the construction phase in 2018. These consortia are spread across the globe and are constituted from a variety of institutes and commercial companies, representing more than 100 institutions and 500 people.

The aim of the 2015 SKA Engineering Meeting was to provide a global overview of the status, progress and way forward for the project in terms of engineering and management, with a summary of the science goals, as well as consortia presentations on the status of design and progress in each of the work-packages. Numerous workshops dealing with specific issues such as radio frequency interference, architecture and interfaces between elements of the telescope took place.

“These face-to-face meetings are essential in a project the scale of the SKA” said Alistair McPherson, Head of Project. “These necessary discussions between engineers and project managers from around the globe show the SKA is a concrete project nearing construction, when issues need solving and solutions need refining to deliver the best possible instrument. It’s very encouraging.”

Throughout the week, visits to NRC’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory were also arranged where visitors has the opportunity to see some of the work related to the SKA being conducted there.

The next Engineering Meeting is due to be held in Stellenbosch, South Africa in October 2016.

Official 2015 SKA Engineering Meeting photo

2015 SKA Engineering Meeting group photo

About the SKA

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

The SKA is not a single telescope, but a collection of telescopes or instruments, called an array, to be spread over long distances. The SKA is to be constructed in two phases: Phase 1 (called SKA1) in South Africa and Australia; Phase 2 (called SKA2) expanding into other African countries, with the component in Australia also being expanded.

Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.