EU funding to support SKA infrastructure study

An aerial view of the MRO, dotted with ASKAP antennas connected by roads.

23 February 2016

Designing the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array, has received an important boost this week thanks to a grant under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.

The EU has allocated funding of $A8m to support the detailed design of infrastructure required at the two SKA co-host sites in the Murchison region of Western Australia and the Karoo region of South Africa.

The funding will be shared between the international SKA Office, located at Jodrell Bank in the UK and the SKA Infrastructure Consortium, made up of the Australia team (led by CSIRO) and the South Africa team (led by SKA South Africa).

According to ASKAP Project Director Ant Schinckel, who also heads up the SKA Infrastructure Australia team, the funds would support Stage 2 SKA infrastructure activities.

“Building a telescope in the middle of the Australian outback is a huge logistical challenge – not only do we need power, communications, water supply and sanitation, and a large facility to house the custom supercomputer, but everything we design will need to preserve the uniquely radio-quiet environment of our site and ensure the SKA will achieve its science goals,” he said.

Simon Berry, the Director of Policy Development at the SKA Global Headquarters, led the development of the successful bid and said the funding was excellent news.

"The SKA continues to be seen as an important global project by the European Union," he said. "This funding will allow us to complete critical design activities. Once these activities are complete, companies and communities in Europe and around the world within our member countries will be poised to benefit from it.”

The SKA is currently in pre-construction phase, with Phase 1 construction set to begin in 2018, and early science from 2020.

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