Science Working Group

Science Working Group Terms of Reference


The Science Working Group is a scientific advisory group that provides input to the Office of the Square Kilometre Array Organization (SKAO) on issues relating to the design, construction, and future operations of the SKA that are likely to affect the Observatory’s scientific capability, productivity and user relations.


It is expected that the Science Working Group will provide advice and guidance, based on their experience with existing telescopes and from the perspective of potential users of the SKA, on the design and development of the SKA. Specific activities are likely to include:

• Providing advice on the science requirements for the SKA, such as the suite of expected measurements, processing approaches, and data products;

• Providing advice on the expected operation of the telescope;

• Making recommendations about potential improvements, particularly in response to emerging research topics; and

• Serving as liaisons to the broader community for SKA science, design and development progress through presentations at major astronomy meetings, universities and research institutions.

Advice and guidance on other matters may be sought as appropriate, and the SWG may comment on other matters as they potentially relate to the scientific use of the SKA.

Structure and Membership

The SWG is organized into a set of Science Teams. Each Science Team has a focus on a specific aspect of the larger SKA Science Case. Current Science Teams are:

The set of Science Teams may evolve, based on emerging scientific results or as needed by the SKA Organisation. Each Science Team shall have a Chair or Co-Chairs, appointed by the SKA Science Director with appropriate attention to representational balance across the entire set of Science Teams. Chairs are appointed for a two-year term that may be renewed for a second term of up to two years. Renewals will be staggered so that a similar number of new appointments are made each year.

Membership on Science Teams is open to any researcher with a science interest in SKA and willingness to contribute an appropriate level of effort toward SKA science needs. Science Team membership is open to researchers affiliated with both SKA-member and non-member nations. Researchers can nominate themselves for membership by contacting the relevant Science Team Chair. Appointments to the Science Teams are made at the discretion of the Chairs, with arbitration in the event of appeals handled by the SKA Science Director.

Chairs should endeavor to achieve broad scientific representation within their science area, while providing balanced national representation of the SKA-member community. Science Teams meet on a regular basis, at a frequency appropriate to each Science Team, to review progress. To keep team sizes manageable, Team Chairs, in consultation with the SKA Science Director, may elect to limit membership to only a single scientist per institute within each Science Team.

Team members are expected to provide representation of both their own expertise as well as their communities and can nominate substitutes as needed to participate in meetings. The term of Science Team membership is two years, with the possibility of renewal for additional two-year terms by application to the Team Chair.

Together with the SKA Science Director, Project Scientists, and Deputy Project Scientist, the Chairs shall form a “coordination group”; the coordination group may have additional members (e.g., sub-system scientists) as appropriate. It shall meet at one to two month intervals to ensure that activities between Science Teams are coordinated, to review progress amongst Science Teams, and discuss issues of broader scientific interest to the SKA.

Science Team membership does not imply participation in an SKA “Key Science Project” or “Survey Team” nor indicate preferred access to the upcoming SKA Observatory in any way.