Radboud Radio Lab has a supporting role in the SKA project as part of the NL-SKA roadmap, where Radio Lab is contributing with two projects: 1) Image Analysis Software Design, 2) Single Antenna Element-Based Quality Control and Calibration.
The first project is proposed to develop methods of classifying sources in future SKA radio maps using their morphology and radio spectra. Spherically, based on LOFAR experience, we have already developed software to identify double sources, which are believed to be FRI and FRII radio galaxies. Using this identification, we can make predictions for the amount of sources we expect to see across the entire sky and use it to constrain galaxy evolution models and understand how active galactic nuclei (AGN) evolve. Development of radio-image analysis software is the goal of the first project. In addition to this, we are going to use SKA-Low for the detection of cosmic ray air showers, the most energetic particles in the universe. In our previously ERC-funded project LOFAR-AUGER, we have already used low-frequency antennas to detect and localize cosmic ray air showers, also to measure their properties. But due to the homogeneity and high density of radio antennas in the core, and also the large bandwidth (50-350MHz), SKA will be the most precise cosmic ray radio detector in the world.
As part of the LOFAR cosmic rays key science project (CR-KSP), our group at Astrophysics Department of Radboud University has developed a number of pipelines and algorithms to treat the raw time series voltage data produced by individual antenna elements in the array. Based on those experiences, RRL proposed (project two) to do detailed quality control, antenna-based RFI excision, and polarization, phase, and gain calibration of individual antenna elements. Calibration signals can be terrestrial radio pulses or multi-frequency continuous wave (CW) signals in near and far-field. This can also be used to quickly identify installation errors or faulty antennas and to localize transient RFI sources. The algorithms can be built into the station processing. In this project, a design will be studied for SKA and prototype software will be also produced, that can be integrated into the station processing and bookkeeping software. As part of the design phase also buffering of antenna data at station level will be investigated in this project.