Lead role for CSIRO in SKA R&D

Artist's impression of dishes (of ASKAP and SKA) that will make up the SKA radio telescope at the Australian SKA core site. Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions/Australian SKA Office.

5 November 2013

The Square Kilometre Array Organisation has today announced that CSIRO will play a lead role in the next stage of the ambitious international SKA project; the development of the world's largest radio telescope, to be located in Australia and in Southern Africa.

This follows confirmation from the SKA Organisation (SKAO) that it has allocated R&D 'work packages' to consortia from around the world. The consortia, involving science institutes and industry, will progress the design and validation processes of the SKA to a stage that will enable tendering and build of the telescope from 2017.

CSIRO will head up the largest of these consortia, the SKA Dish Array Consortium, and will be responsible for the design work relating to the SKA antenna dishes and receivers, and the development of innovative phased array feed (PAF) receivers.

In addition, CSIRO will lead the Infrastructure Australia Consortium in charge of designing and costing critical SKA infrastructure at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) – the Australian SKA site in Western Australia. This would include the provision of power, communications, buildings, water and access to the site.

Dr Lewis Ball, Chief of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, is delighted with the outcome noting, "The SKA is an international project, with global scale and huge scientific ambition. CSIRO's considerable expertise in the field of radio astronomy means we can make a real contribution to one of this century's most exciting scientific projects."

CSIRO will also be a key partner in the Assembly Integration and Verification Consortium, which includes the integration of CSIRO's ASKAP and the South African MeerKAT precursor telescopes, into Phase 1 of the SKA telescope rollout.

As well, the organisation will be involved in several other SKA consortia including those designing the telescope control system and the telescope's signal processing and data transport functions. It will receive $9m in funding from the Australian Federal Government in support of its SKA R&D activity.

The SKA is a global project, involving eleven countries from five continents, and is led by international SKA Organisation based at Jodrell Bank Observatory near Manchester, UK.

Construction of the first phase of the SKA will begin in 2018, with work on a second phase planned to begin in the early 2020's.

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