SKA - Knowledge Exchange Workshop

Workshop held at Jodrell Bank Observatory on 20 March 2013

Over 110 people were registered for this oversubscribed event on The Square Kilometre Array held jointly by STFC’s Innovations Club with STFC’s Astronomy Programme group at Jodrell Bank Observatory on 20 March 2013.

This workshop aimed to pull together the interest from both the academia and industry in order to facilitate knowledge exchange between STFC funded researchers and industry with a view of exploiting technologies and advances being made through SKA.

The technologies required for the SKA are at the core of the future ICT and communications industries and have the potential to be technology driver with impact far beyond the direct return via construction contracts for this £1.2bn radio telescope.

STFC has been funding the technical involvement in the SKA since 2006 focusing on R&D in phased array technology, signal transport and software and computing. On 1 February 2013 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced further £11m investment for the SKA to develop software and techniques capable of handling unprecedented amount of data.

From the technical presentations it was clear that industry engagement is central to the SKA and funding for the industry is available through TSB as well as STFC Innovation Partnership Schemes and direct government funding.

Areas of particular relevance include:

  • Low-cost collecting area/small to medium diameter dishes
  • Low-noise, highly integrated, receivers
  • Phased array antenna technology
  • High-speed (terabits/s) digital fibre optic links
  • Wideband optical fibre signal transport systems
  • Fast, high resolution, analogue-to-digital converters
  • High-speed digital signal processing engines (petabyte/s) and
  • Ultrafast supercomputing (at exaflop rates)

The Director-General of the SKA Organisation, Professor Philip Diamond gave a strategic overview of the current developments and world-wide involvement in the SKA. In particular, he highlighted that the SKA Office has issued a baseline conceptual design as part of Request for Proposals announced on 12 March 2013 to serve as starting point for design and to identify consortia to undertake the detailed design work needed for SKA, which will be approved by the SKA Board following the recommendation from the SKA Office.

STFC is currently coordinating the UK SKA community’s response to the SKA Office’s Request for Proposals to undertake work in the pre-construction phase and to secure a strong position in the various project work packages.

Presentations from the STFC Knowledge Exchange Workshop 20th March 2013



For more information please contact the following:

Science and Technology Facilities Council Switchboard: 01793 442000