What is the aim of the AENEAS project?

The aim of the AENEAS project is to develop a plan for the implementation of a European Science Data Centre for the Square Kilometre Array telescope: the SKA.

How long will the AENEAS Project run?

The Project is running from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2019.

Who are the Partners in the AENEAS project?

28 Partners are collaborating in the project. ASTRON Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy is the Coordinator. For a full overview of the Partners, click here.

What is the Work Plan of the AENEAS project?

For a short overview of the Work Plans, click here.

What is the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope and what will it do?

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is an international project to build a radio telescope tens of times more sensitive and hundreds of times faster at mapping the sky than today’s best radio astronomy facilities. Simply put: the world’s largest radio telescope.

The SKA is not a single telescope, but a collection of various types of antennas, called an array, to be spread over long distances.

The SKA will be the world’s largest public science data project. Once completed it will generate data at a rate more than 10 times today’s global Internet traffic.

The SKA telescope will be powerful enough to detect very faint radio signals emitted by cosmic sources billions of light years away from Earth, those signals emitted in the first billion years of the Universe (more than 13 billion years ago) when the first galaxies and stars started forming.

The SKA will be used to answer fundamental questions of science and about the laws of nature, such as: how did the Universe, and the stars and galaxies contained in it, form and evolve? Was Einstein’s theory of relativity correct? What is the nature of ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’? What is the origin of cosmic magnetism? Is there life somewhere else in the Universe? But, perhaps, the most significant discoveries to be made by the SKA are those we cannot predict.

What makes the SKA so special?

The SKA is a mega-science project, which will test the limits of engineering and scientific endeavour over the coming decades. Building the SKA will require the development of cutting edge technology and innovation, including the design of the world’s fastest supercomputers to process data at rates far greater than the current global internet traffic. The SKA will use thousands of radio antennas, with different antenna technologies. This will enable astronomers to probe the universe in unprecedented detail. The SKA will also be able to survey the entire sky much faster than any radio astronomy facility currently in existence.

What is SKA1 and SKA2?

The SKA is to be constructed in two phases: Phase 1 (SKA1) in South Africa and Australia representing a fraction of the full SKA; and Phase 2 (SKA2) expanding into other African countries, with the Australian component also being expanded.

Where will the SKA be built?

SKA1 will be built in South Africa and in Australia, the two best locations that were identified to host the SKA after extensive site-testing around the world. In South Africa, the SKA site is located in the Karoo near Carnarvon in the Northern Cape province. In Australia, the SKA site is located in the Murchison, inland from Geraldton, in remote Western Australia.
The full SKA, an order of magnitude larger than SKA1, will see a massive increase in terms of the low-frequency antennas in Australia and the dishes in South Africa compared to SKA1. Eight African partner countries, namely Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia, plan to host further dishes (about 10% of the totality). During that phase, a technology called mid-frequency aperture arrays, currently under development, may also be installed in the Karoo in South Africa.

Who is building the SKA?

The SKA project is a international enterprise with currently 10 member countries forming the international SKA Organisation. SKA Organisation is supervising and coordinating all SKA-related activities around the world from the Headquarters located at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK.

Where can I find more information about the SKA?

For all information about the SKA, see https://www.skatelescope.org/