SKAO is looking for Portuguese software suppliers
SKA Observatory calls for tender for software providers to develop the basic platform that will ensure the functioning of the infrastructure. Companies have until 17 September to express interest.
The SKA Observatory (SKAO) is looking for Portuguese companies, universities or research centers engaged with the development of software and computer solutions that will ensure the implementation of the two largest and most complex radio telescope networks ever built. All interested entities should register on the SKAO’s Supplier Portal by September 17, and will be able to participate in the clarification session scheduled for September 13, 2021. There, applicants will receive more details about the project to help resolve any doubts.
At stake is the participation in the development of services and infrastructures that serve as the basis for all software that will enable the operation of the Observatory, including (but not limited to) services of analysis, design, construction, coding, testing, verification, validation, implementation, launch, maintenance, debugging, and documentation of software and computer systems.
The selection process aims to choose one or more suppliers that will ensure the provisioning of services from December 2021 until the end of the process of building and installing the antennas. When completed in July 2029, the antennas will occupy one million square meters of surface area for data collection.
During the pre-construction phase, Portugal was represented by ENGAGE SKA Portugal (Enabling Green E-Science for the Square Kilometer Array), a national infrastructure for radio astronomy research, which has the support of the Portuguese National Roadmap for Research Infrastructures (RNIE). ENGAGE SKA Portugal has a relevant role in this early, definitive phase of the SKA Observatory. With the commencement of construction of SKA, the selection of software suppliers will be highly competitive and is therefore open to all private companies, universities or Portuguese research centers working in this sector.
In a press release, SKAO explains the possibility that, “as the structure evolves, other tasks may become available, but these are the areas in which Portugal has expressed interest in participating – namely, the development and support of services and infrastructure for the platform that underpins the entire SKA application software, including the management of the observatory (Observatory Management and Control – OMC), and the management and processing of scientific data (Scientific Data Handling and Processing – SDHP), among others.”
This means that the contracts coming to Portugal are directly linked to the nation’s contribution to the development of the SKAO, “with Portuguese institutions participating jointly with other countries in the development of components of great relevance to the Observatory, representing about 1.5% of the total investment planned for the installation of the telescopes. SKAO estimates that the total cost for the construction of the two telescopes, opening of operations and associated functions to enable business will be 2 billion euros during the period from 2021 until 2030.”
Portugal is one of the seven founding countries of SKAO, the first mission of which is to build the two largest radio telescopes in the world. These telescopes will have sensitivity, angular resolution and survey speed far beyond the capacities of current instruments. The two telescopes will be installed in South Africa and Australia, respectively. The first will be composed of 133 steerable antennas of 15 meters in diameter, and the second will have 131,072 periodic fixed register antennas. Both will have to be capable of processing data volumes of up to several terabits per second.
Interested entities must register on the SKAO supplier portal by 17 September 2017 and they must inform the national industry liaison officers. To participate in the information session, registration is required no later than 10 September.