Astronomers and engineers of around the world are about to build the world's biggest telescope, called the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), capable of peering deep into space at such things as gamma-ray bursts, extrasolar planets, evolving galaxies, dark matter and possibly even back to the Big Bang, where it all began. The SKA project will create a huge radio telescope - in fact, hundreds of small collection stations forming one ‘big picture' - covering the agreed frequencies of between 0.1 and 25 GHz.
The international consortium behind the project includes many European partners who are busy working on design studies and demonstrators paving the way for the final SKA product.
The Research and Development efforts for SKA at ASTRON are distributed over a number of different technology areas, corresponding to the needs of a phased array radio telescope. Development activities consist of a series of hardware realisations of increasing complexity in which consecutive research results are incorporated.
The SKA Program Office (SPO), hosted by the university of Manchester is funded by the international radio astronomy community through its representatives on the SKA Science and Engineering Committee (SSEC). The task of the SPO and its Working Groups is to coordinate and structure the multitude of activities in the global project.
On behalf of the international SKA project the SPO carries out Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) calibration measurements at each of the candidates sites.