AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 73. Square Kilometer Array
Special Session Oral, Tuesday, January 8, 2002, 10:00-11:30am, State

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[73.04] International Design Concepts for the SKA

J. Tarter (SETI Institute)

In August of 2000, representatives of eleven countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding to Establish the International Square Kilometre Array Steering Committee (ISSC). Arguably, the SKA could be built today, but without question it would be unaffordable. Increasing collecting area by a factor of 100 beyond today's largest array cannot be done cost effectively by simple extensions of what has been done before. New concepts, new designs, and new technologies will be required, as well as a paradigm shift. It will be necessary to heavily exploit emerging communications and consumer market technologies; to "hammer" them into shapes required to solve the SKA challenges, rather than inventing our own solutions from scratch. Or if we do invent ab initio solutions, we should look at creating consumer markets to embrace them, so that the full benefits of mass production and manufacturing can be realized.

The strawman science goals of the SKA are extremely ambitious. Today there are six primary design concepts being studied that attempt to meet some or all of these goals; phased arrays of active elements embedded into flat tiles, "super Arecibo" antennas constructed in individual limestone karst sinkholes and arrayed together, large arrays of small, spherical (or hemispherical) Luneberg lenses, large deformable apertures with long focal ratios and aerostat-borne focal plane array receivers, arrays of large parabolic antennas constructed from steel "ropes," and large arrays of small parabolic dishes derived from the TVRO industry. This talk summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of these various designs in their current, incomplete state.

In the US, the US SKA Consortium of 10 academic and research organizations has generated a roadmap to guide and assess the technology development that will be required to produce a successful SKA design, with well understood costs, performance, and minimal risk. The design and construction efforts for the ATA, LOFAR and the EVLA will provide essential opportunities for proofs-of-concept for portions of the preferred US design; a very large number of small elements configured into a Large-N number of stations.

An aggressive timetable has been adopted for choosing a final (hybrid?) SKA design and the selection of a site, with a target date of 2005. The first, tentative steps have been taken to create an international project office capable of overseeing the development and construction of this facility, negotiating creative solutions to problems of radio frequency interference, and along the way, inventing the infrastructure and management appropriate to this "born international" venture.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.nfra.nl/skai/. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

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