Assembly, Integration & Verification


What do we mean when we refer to Assembly Integration and Verification (AIV) in the SKA design?


The “Assembly Integration and Verification” element includes the planning for all activities at the remote sites that are necessary to incorporate the elements of the SKA into existing infrastructures whether these be precursors or new components of the SKA. AIV does not include design of new components of the SKA.


The ASKAP precursor telescope. After being a telescope on its own right for some years, ASKAP will eventually be integrated into SKA Phase 1. Credit: CSIRO



Artist’s impression of the MeerKAT precursor telescope. After being a telescope on its own right for some years, MeerKAT will eventually be integrated into SKA Phase 1. Credit: SKA SA. Background image by Google Earth with map data from AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd and DigitalGlobe, 2013

More about the AIV
The AIV Consortium has been tasked by the SKA Office to conduct the planning for all activities at the remote sites that are necessary to incorporate the SKA Phase 1 (SKA1) elements into existing infrastructure. This includes

  • Integration of all SKA1 Elements into a Telescope System and verify compliance to engineering requirements.
  • Integrate Precursors into SKA1:
    • MeerKAT Precursor into SKA1_MID (Mid Frequency)
    • ASKAP Precursor into SKA1_SURVEY (SKA Survey Telescopes)



Their role includes the definition of constraints and interfaces between existing precursors and SKA1 Elements, the definition of a Roll-Out Plan for the three SKA1 telescopes (SKA1_LOW, SKA1_MID and SKA1_SURVEY), the definition of a detailed Integration and Verification Plan, as well as the clarification of roles and responsibilities for all contributors to the SKA1 AIV activities.






Flowchart showing AIV in action

Flowchart showing the AIV process (c) SKA Organisation

The Main Challenges
The Roll-Out Plan needs to consider the order of all of the implemented functionality, based on a prioritisation of requirements.  This includes the functionality required for integration and verification, and the functionality required for prioritised the early SKA science. The Roll-Out Plan also describes how many dishes are deployed over what timescales and at which locations.

The detailed Integration and Verification Plan is based on the roll-out plan, but provides sufficient detail that can be used during the construction phase to perform project management of the AIV process. A timeline, in the form of a project plan, is therefore produced for these activities. Another important purpose of this plan is to establish traceability between AIV activities and the originating system and element requirements. Verification Events are identified at different stages of integration to ensure thorough verification. Test Procedures for the various verification activities are written, and resources required to perform the verification activities are identified.

While each SKA1 Element delivers fully acceptance-tested components of the SKA, the AIV activities verify that the integrated system meets all the system-level engineering requirements.  The system is then handed over to the Commissioning Team, who continues to verify the science requirements of the system.

More on the AIV Consortium
The AIV Consortium encompasses three institutions around the globe all working towards this highly complex goal of delivering a fundamental component to the SKA.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) employs ~6000 people across a number of business units. CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) is the business unit which operates a number of major national facilities and develops novel instruments to support front-line astronomy. As the organisation responsible for the design, build and operation of the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope and the Murchison Radio Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia, CSIRO is in a unique position to fulfil its duties to the AIV consortium in Australia. The team assembled by CSIRO to participate in this work package has recent and highly relevant experience in the establishment of remote radio observatories, as well as the commissioning of infrastructure and radio telescope subsystems. Key members of this team have been working closely with the SKAO engineers over the past year as the strategies for the SKA pre-construction phase have been developed so the level of embedded knowledge is very high.

The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) provides front-line observing capabilities (e.g. WSRT and LOFAR) for Dutch and international astronomers across a broad range of frequencies and techniques. It has a strong technology development program, encompassing both innovative instrumentation for existing telescopes and the new technologies needed for future facilities. ASTRON also conducts a vigorous program of fundamental astronomical research. ASTRON has championed the development of low frequency aperture arrays for radio astronomy, culminating in the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) with its operational center at ASTRON. With the completion of the construction of the LOFAR telescope ASTRON has gained important experience in the design and construction of low frequency aperture arrays.

SKA SA is responsible for the establishment and operations of the Karoo Astronomy Reserve where the SKA and MeerKAT are to be located. It is also responsible for the construction and (future) operations of the 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope array which is underway and should be in full commissioning by 2016. SKA SA has built up a significant body of radio astronomy related expertise covering a broad spectrum of activities. A team of commissioning scientists are in place with significant expertise in commissioning the KAT-7 system, a precursor array to MeerKAT. They will be heavily engaged in the commissioning and early science of MeerKAT.

The AIV Consortium is led by by Dr. Richard Lord of SKA Africa.

Institutions involved in the AIV Consortium include:

Contact information of people involved at each institution can be provided by the consortium lead Richard Lord

Click on the map below for more information on the institutions involved in the AIV Consortium

SKA Global Consortia