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The Square Kilometer Array Preliminary Strawman Design

Executive Summary


The scientific issues facing the next generation of radio telescopes require not only a large increase in physical collecting area, but also a high degree of versatility in using large instantaneous bandwidths for continuum, spectral line, and time-domain applications.   The important scientific forefront to be addressed with such an instrument includes mapping  the epoch of reionization;  characterizing the transient radio sky;  surveying H I and CO at high redshifts; probing AGNs over a wide range of luminosities; understanding star formation, stellar populations, and perhaps intelligent life in the Milky Way; and tracking near-Earth objects that are potential hazards to life on Earth. The range of objects to be studied demands sensitivity to a wide range of source sizes, from compact objects on milliarcsecond scales to low surface brightness emission on scales of arcminutes and larger.  To exploit this high sensitivity, large dynamic range and image fidelity are needed for imaging applications while beam-forming over a large field of view  (FOV) and the ability to probe signals with a high degree of time-frequency complexity are needed for transient source applications as well as discriminating celestial signals from radio frequency interference.

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