Square Kilometre Array: Towards Construction

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


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Planned Impact

The SKA is a major new global astronomy facility. It will be operated as an observatory with time awarded via competitive application for observing time. At the same time, the SKA project is a major technical challenge especially within the area of High-performance computing, "Big Data" technologies and energy efficient computing.

The output of the work to be supported by the application will be to support a programme of work to prepare the UK for construction. The delivery of the SKA itself will benefit the full academic astronomy community within the partner countries and more widely. In addition the key science goals for the instrument are at the core of modern cosmology and physics and the results will have significant impact beyond the astronomical community both within the scientific community more widely but also to Society via our better understanding of the Universe and fundamental physics. The continued UK leadership in key areas will ensure the UK astronomical community is ideally placed to maximise return from the SKA when operational.

The proposed work will also have a much wider impact. Most critically the UK, as the global host, has committed £100m to the construction phase. Ensuring the maximal possible return to UK through contracts exceeding the level of the UK's fair work return is critical. The proposed programme of work is designed to maximise the UKs opportunities for winning construction contracts.

The SKA is widely recognised as the next BigData challenge within science. As such the required design is pushing the boundaries of those technologies needed to process, analyse and store streaming data. These technologies are critical to the SKA, but are also of wide and general applicability across a broad range of market sectors from standard Data Centres to the analysis and management of data from sensor networks such as those associated with Smart Cities. Via collaboration with major industry partners in the ICT sector and the targeted contracts to be managed as part of this work, the design work has resulted in an innovative software architecture. As part of the proposed work here this design will be progressed to a substantive early demonstrator of these technologies. The UK leadership in technology areas from Signal transport, through low-noise receivers and the low-frequency aperture arrays all generate not only significant opportunity for construction contracts but additional IP.
1. IP will be developed via this work either jointly or within the industry partners. The IP arrangements in place enable industry partners to exploit this IP while retaining necessary rites for the delivery of the SKA. If the IP is jointly developed appropriate sharing of the results of the impact will be put in place following standard procedures.
2. The SKA design work will provide a focus for some industry partners to develop modified or new products and services which will have wider impact.
3. Direct funding of design work will be undertaken as part of this work. Exploitation of IP derived in this way will be determined by the contractual arrangements with those companies winning competitive tenders while ensuring the delivery of the SKA design according to the SKA IP policy.