|Description:|| On the 1st of April 2008, the Square kilometre Array (SKA) Preparatory Phase Project, PrepSKA started up. PrepSKA is a 22 million programme, with 5.5 million contributed by the European Commission's Seventh_Framework Programme (FP7). The European funding is associated with the inclusion of SKA in the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) list of opportunities. |
Led by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), and coordinated by Prof. Philip Diamond, PrepSKA is very much a global collaboration. Several major funding agencies are involved, including our own Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). ASTRON is one of the key players in further developing the SKA technical concept within PrepSKA, and NWO is contributing to one of four main policy work-packages - the development of a comprehensive governance and legal framework for SKA. In total, PrepSKA involves 24 organisations from 12 different countries.
The various working groups recently met in Perth, Australia to kick-off the project, and the appointment of PrepSKA funded staff is already underway. One of the board's decisions was to approve the PrepSKA logo. Commissioned at great expense [joke!, joke!], the PrepSKA logo appropriately builds on the emblem of the global SKA project.
In Perth, the engagement of the funding agencies in the PrepSKA process was impressive. In addtion to the contributions of STFC and NWO, INAF (IT) leads the procurement policy work package. Building on SKADS and other SKA pathfinders, there is a strong sense within the broad astronomical community that the SKA project has reached a new level of maturity. The success of PrepSKA is crucial to the future development and funding of the global SKA project.
The overarching goal of PrepSKA is to ensure that by 2011 there is an agreed design for the SKA, that there is an organisational structure in place that can manage its construction and operation, and that there is a financial commitment from the leading funding agencies around the globe to make this all a reality.
SKA has come a long way in the last few years, and surely there is a long way to go, but with PrepSKA the project just got serious.....