Progress update

Progress update on the planning and design of SKA1

27 October 2017

The SKAO is moving towards finalising the detailed design of the SKA1 radio telescope which will culminate in Critical Design Reviews (CDR) for all the telescope products and associated infrastructure and power during the course of 2018. The detailed design is being undertaken by 9 Design Consortia from across the world.

At the meeting of the SKA Board of Directors in July 2017, the SKA Board agreed to the following recommendations in relation to the budget, design and construction for SKA1:

  1. The Design Baseline for all Design Consortia will be the basis for Critical Design Reviews and the long-term ambition of the SKA1 project.For SKA1_MID in South Africa, the Design Baseline includes the following:
    133 antennas and associated infrastructure and power which includes 21 antennas located in three spiral arms with a maximum baseline of 150km

    For SKA1_LOW in Australia, the Design Baseline includes the following:
    512 stations in a large core and three spiral arms with a maximum baseline of 65km.

  2. The SKA1 Deployment Baseline will be defined in the SKA Construction Proposal which is currently under development. It will include as much of the Design Baseline as can be afforded at that time. The current Deployment Baseline is formulated on the assumption that €674M (2016 Euros) will be available. Scientific assessment of the proposed deployment baseline demonstrates that the SKA Observatory will deliver transformational science capabilities. Re-instatement of the omitted capabilities, up to the full restoration of the Design Baseline, is planned, either during or after the construction phase, should additional funding become available. The Deployment Baseline will be regularly reviewed by the SKA Science and Engineering Advisory Committee (SEAC) under the direction of the SKA Board.

The implications to these SKA Board approvals are that the scaling options, as well as the steps taken to reduce the cost of the Design Baseline will be implemented to achieve the current calculated Deployment Baseline. The current Deployment Baseline includes the following:

For SKA1_MID in South Africa:
130 antennas and associated infrastructure and power which includes 18 antennas located in three spiral arms with a maximum baseline of 120km

For SKA1_LOW in Australia, the Design Baseline includes the following:
476 stations with a maximum baseline of 40km.

The implication for the SKA Land Acquisition Programme currently underway in South Africa is that the international SKA Organisation, working with SARAO, will implement the Design Baseline (133 antennas which includes 21 antennas and associated infrastructure and power in the three spiral arms at a maximum baseline of 150km).

SARAO will therefore continue to secure Servitude Agreements with affected landowners on the Design Baseline to mitigate any uncertainty in the local communities with regards to servitudes and execute the land acquisition programme cost-effectively. The principle of this approach is to ensure the availability of land in the event that additional funding is secured by the SKAO through member countries to achieve the Design Baseline.

The construction of SKA1 is expected to commence towards the end of 2019 when all the relevant construction licenses have been secured.