Following ratification by the Board of Directors, India’s National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) has now become the 11th full member of SKA Organisation.
“NCRA’s full membership cements India’s intention to play an important part in the SKA, and shows the project is steadily moving forward, with more countries expected to join in the near future,” said Professor Philip Diamond, the SKA Organisation Director General.
NCRA first joined SKA Organisation in April 2012 as an Associate Member, indicating its intention of becoming a Full Member during the pre-construction phase of the project. NCRA has, in fact, been involved in the SKA project since the project’s earliest days and was one of the institutions that signed an agreement in 1997 to develop technologies for a large-scale radio telescope.
In November 2013, SKA Organisation attributed 10 work packages representing the various elements of the SKA to 10 international consortia drawn from nearly one hundred institutions, universities and industry around the world to participate in the analysis and design of the components of the SKA during its three year detailed design phase.
NCRA, a centre of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, is leading the Telescope Manager consortium, a key element of the SKA telescope focused on developing all hardware and software necessary to control the telescope, including the software needed to schedule telescope operations and monitor the status of each of the SKA’s thousands of dishes and antenna stations. NCRA is also a participant in the Signal and Data Transport and Central Signal Processing work packages of the SKA.
Professor Yashwant Gupta, who is leading the Telescope Manager consortium at NCRA, has been appointed as NCRA’s representative on SKA Organisation’s Board of Directors.
“We are very happy to further strengthen our involvement with the SKA. The SKA is one of India’s key science priorities of the next decade and we are proud to represent our country in this exciting international science collaboration,” he said following the decision.
Prof. S.K. Ghosh, Centre Director at NCRA further added that “Involvement in the SKA will also benefit next generation improvements in projects in India such as the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), built and operated by NCRA”.
The proposal to transfer NCRA’s full membership status to the Government of India is under active consideration by the Government. The transfer would ensure a wider participation of other interested parties in India and secure the long-term participation of India in the project.