The international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project to build two radio interferometers is approaching the end of its design phase, and gearing up for the beginning of formal construction. A key part of this distributed Observatory is the overall software control system: the Telescope Manager (TM). The two telescopes, a Low frequency dipole array to be located in Western Australia (SKA-Low) and a Mid-frequency dish array to be located in South Africa (SKA-Mid) will be operated as a single Observatory, with its global headquarters (GHQ) based in the United Kingdom at Jodrell Bank. When complete it will be the most powerful radio observatory in the world. The TM software must combine the observatory operations based at the GHQ with the monitor and control operations of each telescope, covering the range of domains from proposal submission to the coordination and monitoring of the subsystems that make up each telescope. It must also monitor itself and provide a reliable operating platform. This paper will provide an update on the design status of TM, covering the make-up of the consortium delivering the design, a brief description of the key challenges and the top level architecture, and its software development plans for tackling the construction phase of the project. It will also briefly describe the consortium’s response to the SKA Project’s decision in the second half of 2016 to adopt the processes set out by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) for system architecture design and documentation, including a re-evaluation of its deliverables, documentation and approach to internal reviews.
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.