Public Star Night – Dr. Dayton Jones – SSI – The Square Kilometer Array
For nearly twenty years the international radio astronomy community has been developing the technology and designs for a revolutionary new research instrument, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA). The SKA will be the next-generation facility for radio astronomy, offering a tremendous increase in sensitivity and flexibility over any existing radio facility in the world. These new capabilities will help answer some of the most fundamental questions in astrophysics, including the formation of nearby planetary systems, tests of gravitational theories in the strong-field limit, and the long-term evolution and fate of our universe.
The SKA will not consist of a single square kilometer of collecting area, but rather a large number of relatively small telescopes will be combined to provide high sensitivity and high angular resolution over an exceptionally large field of view and an unusually wide range of frequencies. The SKA will be composed of four separate types of radio telescopes, each covering a different part of the radio spectrum. The proposed US component of the SKA will cover the highest frequencies, and will be based on an expansion of the NRAO Very Large Array in New Mexico. New telescope arrays in southern Africa and western Australia will cover lower frequencies. Significant prototype arrays are already under construction in both South Africa and Australia with funding from the host countries and other nations. Together, these arrays will provide an unprecedented leap in observational capabilities.
This talk will cover a few of the major science goals of the SKA, and some of the innovative technology developments that are essential to the affordability of such an ambitious project.
Dayton Jones worked at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California for over thirty years, retiring as a Principal Scientist and moving to Colorado last year. He is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder. His research interests have focused on high-resolution imaging and position measurements of distant radio sources using interferometry. He has served as an officer of the US SKA Consortium, a subcommittee chair for the SKA Science Working Group, and a US representative to the international SKA Science and Engineering Council.