The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is one of astronomy’s flagship projects and is a partnership of 67 organisations in 20 countries. When complete, this telescope will revolutionise radio astronomy. It will eventually consist of more than three thousand receiving antennas with a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometre. Most of the antennas will be located in just one country but parts of the array will stretch out to approximately 3000 km from the main core of antennas.
After the main site for the antennas is selected in 2012 (Australia or South Africa), construction is due to begin in 2016 and will be completed by 2024. Many different disciplines will be involved in the construction and operation of the SKA, ranging from telecommunications to power systems, antenna control, signal/image processing, the use of supercomputers, and information dissemination, to name a few.
We don’t have to wait until 2024 for observations, though; these will be possible in the interim period as the telescope grows in size and will be carried out over an extremely wide frequency range, covering 70 MHz up to 10 GHz. With wide frequency coverage like this, the SKA will be able to carry out studies of early Universe stars and galaxies, SETI, magnetic fields, dark matter, and much more.
Inspec covers many aspects relevant to the SKA. Listed below is a selection of the more important thesaurus terms and classification codes that would be useful for searches:
- antenna arrays
- astronomy computing
- optical fibre networks
- physical instrumentation control
- power system planning
- radiofrequency interferometry
- radio sources (astronomical)
- receiving antennas