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University of Illinois
at Urbana-Champaign


Square Kilometer Array


The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is a next-generation radio telescope under current international cooperative design and development, and intended for phased construction in the decade 2010-2020.

SKA brochureThe SKA aims to combine a significant leap over current arrays in telescope sensitivity and wide-field survey imaging speed in order to address vital open questions in contemporary astrophysics. These include key questions in cosmology, such as the nature of the very early universe and epoch of reionization, which can be probed uniquely at radio wavelengths by observing highly red-shifted neutral hydrogen, strong-field tests of the general theory of relativity of gravitation, studies of cosmic magnetism, and searches for new classes of transient astronomical sources.

In order to achieve these science goals, the SKA needs to build and deploy a square-kilometer of antenna collecting area at meter- to centimeter-wavelengths within a current projected cost envelope of €1.5b. The scientific and engineering challenges of this project are summarized in two SKA books, with active links shown adjacent.

The SKA reference design includes Large-N Small-Diameter (LNSD) concepts, comprising large numbers (N) of commodity parabolic antennas of modest (6-15m) diameter (D), in conjunction with active flat aperture array elements. A schematic from the SKA project is shown below. All current reference designs pose petascale computational and data challenges.

The RAI group is part of the US Technology Development Project (TDP) for the Large-N/Small-Diameter (LNSD) SKA Concept (NSF 0431486) for the period Oct 2007 to Sep 2011 (PI: Professor J. Cordes (Cornell University)), and leads the TDP Calibration and Processing Group (CPG) within that effort.

Figure credit: SKA project.