22 May 2013, Jodrell Bank Observatory, Manchester, UK – e-MERLIN, one of the SKA pathfinder telescopes, requests proposals from the international astronomical community for observations to be made during cycle-1. Deadline for Receipt of Proposals is 23:59:59 UT on 17th June 2013.
Proposals will be peer-reviewed by the e-MERLIN Time allocation Committee, following the procedures of the STFC Panel for Allocation of Telescope Time. Allocation will be made on the basis of scientific merit and technical feasibility alone. During this period approximately 50% of observing time is allocated to 12 large legacy projects and most of the remaining time will be allocated via PATT to standard proposals solicited prior to each observing semester.
e-MERLIN provides high resolution (40-150mas) and high sensitivity (~7-14 µJy in this Cycle-1) imaging at cm wavelengths as well as polarimetry, spectroscopy and astrometry. Cycle-1 observations will commence in September 2013, with some limitations in observing capabilities.
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About e-MERLIN: e-MERLIN, the UK’s national radio astronomy facility, is operated from the Jodrell Bank Observatory by The University of Manchester on behalf of the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council. Its power lies in its combination of the sharpness of view afforded by telescope separations of up to 217km, and its ability to detect very faint signals resulting from the array’s high bandwidth optical fibre connections. By connecting seven large radio telescopes, stretching from Cambridge to Cheshire (including the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank), e-MERLIN is able to produce images with the same detail as the Hubble Space Telescope but at radio rather than visible wavelengths. The signals from the telescopes are brought to Jodrell Bank on a dedicated optical fibre network whose high bandwidth allows the detection of very faint sources of radio emission. At Jodrell Bank 210 Gb of data arrive from the seven telescopes each second. These signals are combined in the correlator, a specialised supercomputer which carries out one thousand million million operations per second. For the signals from each telescope to be accurately combined, they must be synchronised at the level of a few million millionths of a second. The application of these fibre technologies and signal synchronisation techniques have led to e-MERLIN being designated as a pathfinder for what is planned to be the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array.
About the SKA: The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the big bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project. Members of the SKA Organisation as of March 2013:
- Australia: Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
- Canada: National Research Council
- China: Ministry of Science and Technology
- Germany: Federal Ministry of Education and Research
- Italy: National Institute for Astrophysics
- Netherlands: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research
- New Zealand: Ministry of Economic Development
- Republic of South Africa: National Research Foundation
- Sweden: Onsala Space Observatory
- United Kingdom: Science and Technology Facilities Council
- India: National Centre for Radio Astrophysics
SKA website: skatelescope.org