Science users FAQs

Answers to common questions asked by the science community
  • Two kinds of proposals will be invited for the SKA: “standard” PI-led proposals and Key Science Project (KSP) proposals.

  • KSP proposals will typically require significantly more observing time and/or resources than standard PI-led proposals. The exact distinction is still being finalised. However, as a general guideline, PI-led proposals would typically be observed within a single observing cycle while KSPs will typically run over multiple observing cycles. KSP and PI-led proposal calls will happen with different periodicity and will be evaluated separately.

  • In 2014, the SKA Science Working group chairs were requested to provide a list of key scientific goals for the working groups they represented for the first phase of deployment of the SKA (called SKA1, or SKA in the public literature). The SKAO science team assessed the relative priorities of these science objectives by scoring them with respect to a set of criteria. This approach was reviewed and its outcomes confirmed by the “Science Review Panel”. The output of this process is a list of HPSOs, which have been used to guide the detailed design and priority of SKA1 elements (e.g., prioritising SKA1-Mid bands 2, 5 and 1 with respect to the other bands).

  • No. It is not intended that HPSOs will evolve into KSPs. The definition of KSPs is completely general and there will be no restriction for them to be limited to HPSOs.

  • Observations for KSPs will begin after the SKA1 is fully deployed, commissioned and operational. With respect to this date, expressions of interest and full proposals will happen around 2 years earlier. Current estimates are that SKA1 construction will be completed about 5 years from the time of approval of the construction (approval happened in 2021). This will be followed by an interval of commissioning prior to the start of routine operations.

  • The exact fraction of observing time to be dedicated to KSPs will be decided by the SKAO Council but a working assumption is that it will be between 50 and 75% of the time in the first five years of routine operations.

  • It is anticipated that scientists from non-participating countries will be allowed to be members of KSP proposals within the constraints set by the overall access policy that envisages a small fraction of “open” observing time.

  • It is anticipated that scientists from non-participating countries will not be allowed to lead KSP proposals.

  • The SRCs will provide a distributed archive and handover points for SKA data, as well as the capabilities for further processing of the Science Data Processor (SDP) data products. The boundary between SDP and SRC responsibilities is currently being defined.

  • The data will be made fully public after a proprietary period that is yet to be finalised, but which will follow international best practice, e.g. it is anticipated to be in the region of 1 to 2 years after the date of data product release.

  • The details will be finalised by the SKAO Council, at a time when SKA commissioning is sufficiently advanced to consider a first Call for Proposals.

Last modified on 10 May 2024