The Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) invites the astrophysical community to attend the “The Third National Workshop  on the SKA Project - The Italian Route to the SKAO Revolution”, that will be held on 4-8 October 2021.

Important Deadlines:

Call for abstracts: 15 July 2021

Registration: 15 September 2021

Programme: A preliminary version of the programme is now available. See "Timetable". All indicated times are CEST.

Workshop description and aims

The establishment of the SKA Observatory (SKAO) in February 2021 has formally started the process leading to the construction of one of the mega-science facilities of the 21st Century, with full operations planned by 2030. With nearly 200 dishes in South Africa and more than 130,000 antennas in Western Australia operating across the radio spectrum, the SKAO’s telescopes will transform our understanding of the Universe. 

Awaiting the SKAO’s telescopes, radio astronomy is rapidly advancing under the impulse of a number of new, state-of-the-art facilities, collectively known as precursors and pathfinders. In particular, the advent of LOFAR, and more recently ASKAP and MeerKAT, has considerably broadened the observational parameter space, and opened new windows on several astrophysical areas. The SKA project (and to some extent its precursors) will enable a wealth of unique discoveries in areas as diverse as the formation of Earth-like planets, the detection of gravitational waves, the origin of cosmic magnetic fields, the formation and growth of stars, galaxies and black holes, as well as large scale structures, back to the epoch of reionization and cosmic dawn. In fact the SKAO’s telescopes will revolutionize our knowledge in all fields of modern astrophysics and cosmology, and will have important scientific applications also in the field of general and astro-particle physics.

The SKAO’s telescopes are designed to be survey instruments, and it is envisaged that a large fraction of their observing time will be dedicated to the execution of large surveys, organized in international Key Science Projects (KSPs). Nevertheless a fraction of the observing time will be available to PI-led proposals. The SKA project science case is expected to evolve rapidly in the near future, thanks to the new results from precursors and pathfinders. The exploitation of these facilities will naturally lead to the definition of the SKA KSPs, to the development of new data analysis skills, and ultimately to the formation of international KSP teams. 

Italy, through INAF, has been involved in the project since the establishment of the SKA Organization (2012) and it is one of the six countries that founded the new born SKA Observatory. On the way to SKAO operations, INAF joined the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) in 2018 and the MeerKAT+ project (an extension of MeerKAT) in 2020. In addition to this, INAF is working towards the establishment of a dedicated data analysis facility which will join the so-called SKA Regional Centers (SRC): a distributed network of data centers housing high-end computing facilities for data processing and long-term archiving. SRCs are also expected to provide proposal preparation and data handling support to SKA users.

The main goals of this Third National Conference are:

a) to review the ongoing scientific activities in Italy in preparation for the future SKA surveys. Particular emphasis will be given to results from precursors and pathfinders, SKA-related theoretical/simulations studies, as well as ideas for synergistic use of other facilities.

b) to present and coordinate ongoing activities towards the development of an Italian SKA Regional Center, as part of the INAF Computing Facility. Data analysis expertise is essential for strong and competitive KSP teams under Italian leadership. 

c) to discuss a national scientific roadmap towards full exploitation of SKA surveys with the broader astrophysical community, and start to organize the future SKA KSP teams.