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SKA & SKA Science Data Processing

by Carolyn Hunsinger last modified Apr 24, 2013

Bojan Nikolic (University of Cambridge)


SKA & SKA Science Data Processing


The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is planned to be, by a large factor, the largest and most sensitive radio telescope ever constructed. The first phase of the telescope (SKA1), which is now entering the design phase, is planned to begin science operations in 2019 and will in itself represent a major leap in capabilities compared to current facilities.  I will first provide a brief overview of the SKA1 science case, much of which built around surveys and transient phenomena, features it shares with the LSST. I will next describe the challenges for the SKA Science Data Processor (SDP), which is the part of the SKA system that will accept the data output from the correlator/beam-former and that will deliver final calibrated data products to scientists. To achieve the fidelity and high dynamic range required, the SDP system will have to employ sophisticated RFI mitigation, calibration and imaging algorithms, yet the sustained input
data rates will be up to 400 GB/s and will need to be processed in soft-realtime. This means that a super-computer scale computing facility will need to be used for the processing  of the data and that a fresh and carefully considered approach to software engineering, algorithms, and computing operations will need to be developed. I will finally describe the international consortium we are currently establishing to bid to design the SDP element and some of the concepts for the compute platform that have been developed so far.