The Square Kilometer Array. Should we all wait until 2022?

The SKA, composed of several hundreds of 3 different types of antennas with separations up to 3000 km, and up to 200 square degrees FOV, can be considered as the largest, most sensitive, and most difficult radio telescope ever to be built.

Some of the research areas where it will be able to provide fundamental answers include the dark era, when gas in galaxies was first turned in stars and the first black holes formed, star formation in nearby galaxies from stellar birth to death, faint extragalactic emission, magnetism in galaxies, extrasolar planets, or confrontation of Einstein predictions with pulsars and black holes observations.

The implied technological challenges offer an unprecedented opportunity to collaborate in the development of hardware technologies: low cost collecting area, low noise receivers, phased array antenna technology, wideband optical fibre, etc.

Data transport will reach over a hundred times the current global internet traffic data rates, delivering as much data as the full world web wide. In order to process this data torrent in real time, full exploitation of the GRID facilities will be considered in a new innovative way, as those related with global sensor networks and stream computing. This will make the GRID to deploy its possibilities to the extreme, providing not only high performance distributed computing, but also distributed data storage and innovative retrieval technologies in the exascale.

This way to do science, based on data-intensive interdisciplinary cooperation, is the base of the concept of e-Science, which necessarily includes outreach as an indisoluble part of the human progress based on knowledge.

Full benefit for the scientific community goes through early involvement in precursors and pathfinders. Challenges and opportunities that SKA can bring to everyone interested have been the subject of recent international conferences, which I will try to summarize here.


15/07/2010 - 14:00
Lourdes Verdes-Montenegro
Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía - CSIC