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Canadian astronomy community prioritises SKA in 10-year plan
from Contact 05
The SKA has been placed at the forefront of Canadian astronomers’ priorities for the next decade in the Canadian Astronomical Society’s Long Range Plan (LRP) 2020 that will be soon released.
The LRP reviews the field of astronomy and astrophysics in Canada and makes a series of recommendations aimed at stakeholders including government, professional astronomy organisations, universities and individuals. It serves as a unified vision for how the national astronomy community would like to see investment prioritised in Canada over the next decade.
The SKA has featured prominently in previous decadal reviews, and in the next 10 years, participation in SKA construction and operations is highlighted as a major investment priority for the astronomical community.
“Participation in the SKA enables a broad cross-section of professional Canadian astronomers to maintain their leadership roles on the global astronomy stage in areas like pulsars, transients, cosmic magnetism and low-frequency cosmology, by having access to an instrument that allows them to carry out world-class research,” says Prof. Kristine Spekkens, Canadian Science Director in the SKA Board.
From a technology angle, Canada has a long history of developing cutting-edge correlators - very specialised supercomputers that combine telescope signals to produce sky images - and led the SKA’s Central Signal Processor design consortium and the correlator design for the SKA-Mid telescope in South Africa.
“SKA technology development has all sorts of industrial benefits for Canada, so in addition to the science aspect, participation in the SKA enables return on investment via innovative technological contributions. It’s a model that benefits Canadians when our government makes large investments in science and technology,” Prof. Spekkens adds.
“The ambition of the Canadian community is also to host an SKA Regional Centre, one of a global network of high performance computing centres which will process, store and provide access to SKA data. That feeds very nicely into the digital economy that many countries, including Canada, are looking to develop.”