26 July 2016 Observation management challenges of the Square Kilometre Array
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Abstract
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be the world's most advanced radio telescope, designed to explore some of the biggest questions in astronomy today, such as the epoch of re-ionization, the nature of gravity and the origins of cosmic magnetism. SKA1, the first phase of SKA construction, is currently being designed by a large team of experts world-wide. SKA1 comprises two telescopes: a 200-element dish interferometer in South Africa and a 130000-element dipole antenna aperture array in Australia. To enable the ground-breaking science of the SKA an advanced Observation Management system is required to support both the needs of the astronomical community users and the SKA Observatory staff. This system will ensure that the SKA realises its scientiffc aims and achieves optimal scientific throughput. This paper provides an overview of the design of the system that will accept proposals from SKA users, and result in the execution of the scripts that will obtain science data, taking in the stages of detailed preparation, planning and scheduling of the observations and onwards tracking. It describes the unique challenges of the differing requirements of two telescopes, one of which is very much a software telescope, including the need to schedule the data processing as well as the acquisition, and to react to both internally and externally discovered transient events. The scheduling of multiple parallel sub-array use is covered, along with the need to handle commensal observing - using the same data stream to satisfy the science goals of more than one project simultaneously. An international team from academia and industry, drawing on expertise and experience from previous telescope projects, the virtual observatory and comparable problems in industry, has been assembled to design the solution to this challenging but exciting problem.
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Alan Bridger, Stewart J. Williams, Mark Nicol, Pamela Klaassen, Roger S. Thompson, Cristina Knapic, Giovanna Jerse, Andrea Orlati, Marco Messina, Snehal Valame, "Observation management challenges of the Square Kilometre Array", Proc. SPIE 9913, Software and Cyberinfrastructure for Astronomy IV, 99130Z (26 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2232578; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2232578
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