SKA Observatory (SKAO)

The SKAO is an intergovernmental organisation bringing together nations from around the world. Its mission is to build and operate cutting-edge radio telescopes to transform our understanding of the Universe, and deliver benefits to society through global collaboration and innovation. The observatory has a global footprint and consists of the SKAO Global Headquarters in the UK, the SKAO’s two telescopes (SKA-Low and SKA-Mid) at radio-quiet sites in South Africa and Australia, and associated facilities to support the operations of the telescopes.

The two telescopes will operate from 50 MHz to 350 MHz (SKA-LOW) and 350 MHz to 15.4 GHz (SKA-MID) respectively. Both telescopes will provide order of magnitude increases in survey speed compared to existing instruments and so will test existing, and develop new, theories over a very broad range of science areas. These include General Relativity, Cosmology, the Cosmic Dawn, Galaxy Formation and Evolution, the Cradle of Life, Cosmic Magnetism and the Exploration of the Unknown.

Both SKA telescopes will transfer an average of 8 terabits per second of data to their Science Data Processors (SDP) which are based in South Africa and Australia respectively. These SDP supercomputers will calibrate and process the telescope timestream data to produce Observatory Level Data Products (OLDPs). A wide variety of different OLDPs can be produced depending upon the specific science goal. The OLDPs will be distributed via intercontinental telecommunications SKA Regional Centres (SRC).

SKA Regional Centre Network (SRCNet)

Member states including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom are funding and collaborating, together and with the SKAO, to develop an internationally interoperable network of SRC nodes. SRC nodes will recieve the OLDPs for further processing to generate Advanced Data Products (ADP), which will then be used by scientists to produce scientific results. The SRCNet will be the only route for researchers to access SKA data products and perform advanced scientific analysis.

Researchers and digital research professionals work in international prototyping teams to identify evaluate, test and develop different components that will be required by the SRCNet to function.

UKRI’s list of useful SKA acronyms