13 January 2014, SKA Headquarters, Jodrell Bank Observatory, UK – Professor Philip Diamond, director-general of the SKA Organisation, visited at the end of last year a number of Chinese partners and witnessed first-hand the developments in the country. During his visit he was able to see not only numerous science and engineering groups engaged in the SKA’s development, but also had the opportunity to meet members of the SKA China office and the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Professor Diamond in his visit to China met many of the teams who are working on the SKA, as well as key members of the Chinese radio astronomy engineering and scientific community.
A whistle stop tour of many of the key facilities included visits to the CETC-38 group, who have an important role in the development and engineering design as well as construction of the Low Frequency Aperture Array and Mid Frequency Aperture Array prototype elements of the SKA Telescope.
Professor Diamond also visited the dish team at CETC-54, the 54th Research Institute of the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation.
Founded in 1952 and located in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province, CETC-54 was the first telecommunications research institute to be founded by the Chinese Government. In its over 60 year lifespan, the group has grown in to one of the leading research institutes in the field of electronics and information systems.
CETC-54 has strong technical capabilities and broad specialisations encompassing nine research divisions. These include four national and ministry level R&D centers, one national laboratory, four professional manufacturing factories and one composite material processing centre. These have access to a total of three field test ranges, where developments in the laboratory and engineering centres can then be tested.
CETC-54 have been involved since 2008 in the development of the SKA. They were intimately involved in the ASKAP precursor telescope in Australia, being one of the key partners in the design, manufacture, transport installation and testing of all 36 of the dish antenna. These were successfully installed in October 2012, and are now in the commissioning phase.
In 2010, CETC-54 together with NAOC (National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Science) established a laboratory named JLRAT (Joint Laboratory for Radio Astronomy Technology) whose Professor Diamond also visited.
JLRAT is a full partner of the SKA DISH Consortium and CETC-54 is a key member of several SKA work packages, including the DISH and WBSPF packages.
Professor Diamond also visited the SKA Office in China as well as the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), where SKA Office members and Professor Diamond had a very positive meeting.
“I am very impressed by the work being conducted by all of our SKA Partners here in China,” said Professor Diamond, commenting on the visits to the two CETC centres. “It is clear that the level of technical expertise and skill-set of our Chinese partners will help make the SKA, not only the most advanced radio telescope on Earth, but a great example of true global cooperation in science and engineering.”