SKA preconstruction funding supplement

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics

Abstract

This grant provides additional funding as part of the SKA preconstruction development programme at Oxford. Two new areas are funded:

1) SKA1-Mid Band 3/4/5 feed package development. This is one of the three feed packages being developed for SKA1-Mid, the SKA dish array. Bands 3, 4 and 5 cover the frequencies from 1.65 GHz to 13.8 GHz. Under this funding we will develop the prototype feed package which includes the integration of the cryogenic cooling, feed horns, low noise amplifiers, RF gain chain and all relevant support equipment in to a complete package that will be tested on the prototype SKA dish antenna.

2) ProtoNIP - this is a computing system that will be used to validate the development work being done on searching for new pulsars with the SKA. The computing cluster will be attached to the SKA precursor instrument MeerKAT in South Africa, and will be used as a test-bed for the algorithms used to detect pulsars from the data stream produced by the telescope.

In addition, the grant will support all the researchers working at Oxford on SKA design and development for a period of 4 months, enabling continuation of the design consortia work towards the system critical design reviews.

Planned Impact

Both areas of research covered by this grant will use equipment supplied by high-tech industry in the UK. Following on from the development work supported in this grant, the SKA organisation will procure the production versions of the receivers and computing systems. Having done the development in the UK makes it significantly more likely that these production contracts will be based in the UK.

Publications

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Brook P (2015) Emission-rotation correlation in pulsars: new discoveries with optimal techniques in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Chapman E (2016) The effect of foreground mitigation strategy on EoR window recovery in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Foster G (2018) ALFABURST: a commensal search for fast radio bursts with Arecibo in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Foster G (2015) Intrinsic instrumental polarization and high-precision pulsar timing in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Garsden H (2015) LOFAR sparse image reconstruction in Astronomy & Astrophysics

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Karastergiou A (2015) Limits on fast radio bursts at 145 MHz with artemis, a real-time software backend in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Kondratiev V (2016) A LOFAR census of millisecond pulsars in Astronomy & Astrophysics

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Moldón J (2015) The LOFAR long baseline snapshot calibrator survey in Astronomy & Astrophysics

 
Description This award has been used to advance the design of the Square Kilometre Array towards construction readiness. Advanced designs now exist in the areas to which we have been contributing - software systems, detection of pulsars, receiver design, signal processing hardware and software.
Exploitation Route This work will be used to complete the construction of the SKA and hence enable all the subsequent science.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology

 
Description SKA Aperture Array Delivery Consortium 
Organisation ASTRON Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (Astron) leads this consortium of several research institutes which is designing systems for the Square Kilometre Array. Oxford is contributing to the design of the digital signal processing system and the overall system design.
Collaborator Contribution Other partners are contributing design to all other aspects of the SKA low-frequency aperture array system.
Impact Design documents internal to the SKA project.
Start Year 2013
 
Description SKA Central Signal Processing Consortium 
Organisation NRC Canada
Country Canada 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution NRC leads the SKA central signal processing consortium. Oxford contributes design of signal processing systems for detection and analysis of pulsar signals.
Collaborator Contribution Other consortium members provide designs of other aspects of the SKA signal processing system including beamformers and correlators.
Impact SKA internal project documents
Start Year 2013
 
Description SKA Dish Consortium 
Organisation Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Country Australia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution CSIRO leads the SKA Dish consortium which is designing the dish antennas and receivers for the SKA. Oxford is leading the design of one of the receiver packages.
Collaborator Contribution Other consortium members are designing the dish antennas and other receiver packages.
Impact SKA internal project documents
Start Year 2015
 
Description SKA Science Data Processing Consortium 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Department of Physics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Cambridge leads the SKA consortium planning the science data processing system. Oxford contributes expertise in algorithms and high performance computing.
Collaborator Contribution Other consortium members contribute many areas of expertise in scientific computing.
Impact SKA internal project documents.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Oxford Astrophysics Stargazing event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Oxford Astrophysics holds an annual 'Stargazing' public event with ~500 attendees. Staff from this research project take part in talks and demonstrations explaining the SKA project and astrophysics in general to the public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017,2018,2019
 
Description SKA stand at Bluedot Festival, Jodrell Bank 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Members of our research group staffed an SKA stall at the Bluedot Festival (music/science) at Jodrell Bank in 2016 and 2017. They explained the SKA project and astronomy in general to members of the public (several hundred encounters from the ~5000 people attending the festival). Our staff reported strong interest and appreciation from the members of the public they spoke to.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017