ngVLA Update

By / par Erik Rosolowsky (U Alberta), Joan Wrobel (NRAO)
(Cassiopeia – Winter / hivers 2020)

The next-generation Very Large Array (ngVLA) Project was pleased to learn that it was one of two new projects prioritized in LRP2020 for Canadian investment in future facilities. LRP2020 recommended that Canada seek engagement with the ngVLA to guarantee a ~6% share of observing time. With this article, we are inaugurating a regular feature intended to keep Canadian stakeholders informed about ngVLA progress. If you would like to receive more updates on the ngVLA project, sign up for the ngVLA-Canada mailing list by sending a note to James DiFrancesco.

While we await the results of the US Decadal review, there have been several developments from the ngVLA Project office. For FY2021, the US National Science Foundation (NSF) continues to support the design and development effort through its funding of the ngVLA cooperative agreement. Approximately US$10M has been made available to continue work on key ngVLA subsystems including antennas, electronics and computing, almost doubling the annual expenditures from the preceding three years. Working closely with the NSF, the ngVLA Project Office is developing plans for the next three years of design and development, leading to a shovel-ready project in the mid-2020s.

In collaboration with National Research Council Canada and other international and industrial partners, the ngVLA Project has conducted five conceptual design studies for the ngVLA 18-m antenna. These studies have resulted in four alternative concepts that meet the key requirements while employing differing innovative technical solutions.

As part of the conceptual design selection, the Project has released a request for proposals for the final design and prototype of the 18m antenna. Proposals were submitted in early December, with an anticipated decision in early 2021. The proposals will be evaluated on a best-value basis, considering the estimated and modelled performance of the antenna concept to the full Project scientific and operational requirements, the costs of the design and prototype effort, and the anticipated total lifecycle costs for the ngVLA Project.

The Project office has also released a notional Envelope Observing Program, a prediction of how the community might use the facility during a typical year of full science observations. The Program adopts values for the availability of science time and antennas that are more taxing than the Project’s goals. It thus represents an upper envelope on what might actually be demanded from the facility. The Program will be used to inform studies of computing loads and design options.

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