Journey towards the establishment of the NAOJ SKA Promotion office

The Japanese SKA consortium has been making efforts towards Japanese participation in the SKA project. Establishment of the SKA promotion office in the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) is one of the keys to leading the Japanese community to achieving this purpose. A lot of achievements such as accepted scientific projects and obtained results regarding the SKA have promoted it to such reality. NAOJ has continuously supported our activities towards Japanese participation to the SKA, with Mizusawa VLBI observatory regarding the SKA as one of its future plans.

SKA-JP members discussed possible Japanese engineering contributions to the SKA project and concluded that the VLBI backend of the CSP (Central Signal Process) element and the AIV (Assembly, Integration, & Verification) element could be possible candidates. After SKA-JP concluded discussions with Mizusawa VLBI observatory and NAOJ regarding the SKA promotion in Japan, an SKA working group was formed inside the Mizusawa VLBI observatory, who have created a report detailing their scientific activity, which can be extended by the SKA. The ideas of proposing a sub-project in the Mizusawa VLBI observatory and the establishment of the NAOJ SKA promotion office, is being supported by the VLBI community through discussions at VERA users meeting and VLBI workshops held last November and December, respectively. Also VLBI and Radio committees of the NAOJ have made positive statements for the proposal of this sub-project.

The first objectives of the sub-project have been defined, beginning with the task of completing inspections and negotiations to join SKA1 and to get ready for this potential participation, while listening to the comments from the community. It will then try to make the SKA regarded as the future project of the Mizusawa VLBI observatory by the beginning of the 2020s and one of the leading projects for NAOJ by the 2030s. Three concepts of plan, science, and engineering have been proposed and are in current discussion, with the application of the sub-project being submitted on 17 Jan 2019. The NAOJ SKA promotion office will define the project and lead scientific and engineering works for the first two years. It aims to join SKA1 as a minor partner for the next three years and hopes to become a major partner for SKA2 in the future.

SKA-JP Engineering Workshop

The second SKA-JP domestic engineering workshop was held at Inamori Hall, Kagoshima University on 18 Dec. 2018. The programme started with the overview of the SKA, science with the SKA and current activities in the SKA-JP engineering working group. This was followed by talks on possible Japanese engineering contributions to the SKA; (1) development of 14 – 27 GHz receiver, (2) VLBI mode of digital signal processing using the FPGA boards, and (3) assembly, integration, and verification of the antennae. Participants from various engineering departments and industries as well as scientific departments assembled at the workshop and had lively discussions.

SKA-Japan Workshop on Pulsars and Transients

SKA-Japan held a workshop on pulsars and transients on 5-7 Jan at Kashima. The first two days were devoted to domestic sessions, where we had many intriguing talks not only on radio observations and pulsar theory but on X-ray observations and gravity theory. On the last day, we had an international session with guests from CSIRO and NAOC. They gave review talks on Pulsar Timing Array with Parkes telescope and pulsar observations with FAST. Further, we had an intensive discussion on possible international collaborations towards the SKA era. We will keep working on pursuing a way to collaborate both domestically and internationally.

International Workshop – “The Power OF Faraday Tomography – Towards 3D Mapping of Cosmic Magnetic Fields -”

SKA-JP Cosmic Magnetism Science Working Group is organising an international workshop “THE POWER OF FARADAY TOMOGRAPHY– TOWARDS 3D MAPPING OF COSMIC MAGNETIC FIELDS -” at Cottage Himuka, Seagaia Resort, Miyazaki from 28 May to 2 Jun.

This workshop will be focusing on the “Faraday Tomography” to derive three dimensional structures of magnetic fields from the observed polarisation data, and also on the mysterious objects “Fast Radio Bursts” as well as recent observational and theoretical studies on the cosmic magnetism being discussed. Additionally, tutorial sessions for beginners of polarisation data reductions and Faraday tomography are also planned.

Report provided by Hiroyuki Nakanishi