|Description:|| The SKA Director-General, Phil Diamond, visited ASTRON on Tuesday 24th October. He tries, as best he can, to periodically visit all of the major SKA partner institutes to talk to staff engaged in SKA design work and science planning and, in the case of ASTRON, to meet with the leader of the Low-Frequency Aperture Array Consortium (Jan Geralt bij de Vaate) and other senior ASTRON staff, including Carole Jackson, the new General and Scientific Director.|
Phil gave an SKA status report to all staff; he mentioned the recent election of Catherine Cesarsky as the new Chair of the SKA Board; he provided an update on the engineering design efforts, and showed photographs of prototype dish hardware, the aperture array verification system in Western Australia, the Band 1 feeds being developed in Sweden, the Band 2 receivers being developed jointly in South Africa and Canada, the prototype Non-Imaging Processing board from the UK and Australia, and the SKA-Low correlator/beamformer board being developed jointly by ASTRON and CSIRO.
He also showed an aerial shot of the new 1.6 MW solar power station at the Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory, which is soon to be fully operational. Another aerial photograph showed excellent progress on the construction of the SKA HQ in the shadow of the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank in the UK; the building extension will be complete in June 2018.
Phil finished up by telling us about the good progress towards the signing of the Convention (or treaty) that will establish the SKA Observatory, the estimated construction and operations costs for the observatory and the cost control measures that have been implemented and ended with a few words about the overall schedule, which will hopefully see construction activities starting around the end of 2019.