3rd Swiss SKA Days

June 11 - 12, 2018, FHNW Windisch


The 3rd Swiss SKA Days, co-organized by the Institute for Data Science and EPFL, took place at the FHNW School of Engineering in Brugg-Windisch on June 11 and 12. Participatnts included Catherine Cesarsky (Board Director of the SKA project) and other SKA representatives from around the globe. They met with Swiss government representatives, industrial organizations and scientists from the major Swiss Universities to discuss risks and opportunities related to the ambitious SKA radio-astronomy project – a global endeavour at the edges of advanced technology and computing.

For the first time, interested Swiss companies were invited to consider potential involvement not only in the construction of the observatory but also in the managment of the huge amount of data expected.

SKA stands for Square Kilometre Array. The project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area.

Later this year, SKA is about to become an Inter-Governmental Organisation (alike CERN, ESA, ESO) with a plan to build in the next years two major interferometric radio observatory located in South Africa and Western Australian. Switzerland has currently an observer position in the SKA project and is considering from 2021 on a participation as a SKA member.

Link to the official SKA website

Link to the SKA website at EPFL


Media coverage

Astronomen werben für eine Schweizer Beteiligung an einem interkontinentalen Radioteleskop 

Article in German describing the project and Swiss research interest in th elarge research infrastructure.
Neue Zürcher Zeitung NZZ, June 16

Mit Machine Learning den Weltraum verstehen  

Article in German about a student at the Institute of Data Science involved in Machine Learning for SKA.
Newsletter FHNW School of Engineering, June 28


Some impressions




Monday June 11, 2018


  Introduction Session (room 1.047)
Chair: Daniel Schärer (UniGE)
10:20 Welcome and Logistics Jean-Paul Kneib (EPFL)
10:30 Welcome and Presentation of the FHNW André Csillaghy (FHNW)
10:40 The Swiss Trilogy: Universities, HES and Industries Anton Demarmels (SwissMEM)
10:50 The SKA Project Catherine Cesarsky (Chair of the Board of the SKA Organisation)
11:20 SKA Organisation Status Simon Berry (SKA)
11:40 Views from SERI Xavier Reymond (SERI)
11:50 Progress and Science with Meerkat Fernando Camilo/Oleg Smirnov (SKA South Africa)
12:10 Atomic clocks technologies Pascal Rochat (Spectratime, CH)
12:30 Standing Lunch
  Parallel Sessions: SKA in Europe (room 1.047)
Chair: Tyler Bourke (SKA)
14:00 SKA Wide Band Single Pixel Advanced Instrumentation Program & SKA Status in Sweden Miroslav Pantaleev (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden)
14:20 SKA, the synchrotron continuum star-formation rate machine: prying open the black box & SKA Status in UK Mark Sargent (U. of Sussex, UK)
14:40 The French community towards the Square Kilometre Array Chiara Ferrari (OCA, France)
15:00 ASTRON & the Netherlands national facilities in the SKA era Carole Jackson (DG ASTRON, NL)
15:20 Radio-astronomy and SKA-related Activities in Italy
Isabella Prandoni (INAF, Italy)
15:40 Coffee break
16:10 Contribution by other countries (Germany, Spain, Portugal, …)
16:30 Discussion
Parallel Sessions: Swiss Industry Interest (room 1.045)
Chair: Simon Berry (SKA)
14:00 The SKA procurement plan Ian Hastings (SKA Head of Procurement)
14:30 CSCS: by Michele De Lorenzi (Deputy Director)
14:45 Orolia/Spectratime/T4Science: by Pascal Rochat (Managing Director)
15:00 APCO technologies: by Louis Comtesse (Technical Account Manager)
15:15 Viasat: by Ferdinando Tiezzi (Director of Business Development)
15:30 The DOME project IBM-Research: by Paul Hurley (Research Scientist)
15:45 Coffee break
16:10 Cosylab possible contributions to SKA telescope management CosyLab: by Diego Casadei (Head of Space R&D)
16:20 Solenix: by Yann Voumard (Business Manager)
16:30 Company presentation nanoTRONIC GmBH: by Philippe Hersberger  (CEO)
16:40 Innovative Electronics – Design and Development Services Art of Technology AG: by Klaus Ruzicka (Senior Engineer)
16:50 Ultra high bandwidth chip-to-chip links at low power Kandou Bus: by Amin Shokrollahi (CEO)
17:00 Ateleris: by Etesi Laszlo (Managing Director)
17:10 Aquiris (TBC), Netcetera (TBC), Swissto12 (TBC) …
18:00 Standing dinner along SKA outreach activities
Public talk
20:00 Wie wir mit künstlicher Intelligenz das Universum erkunden Kevin Schawinski (ETHZ)

Tuesday June 12, 2018

Session on SKA Astrophysics Science (room 1.047)
Chair: Jean-Paul Kneib (EPFL)
9:00 SKA Science and planning [Title TBC] Tyler Bourke (SKA Project Science group)
9:20 The Australian SKA Pathfinder: update and early science Baerbel Korbalsky (CISR9
9:40 The HI search for the smallest galaxies: present and future Tom Oosterloo (ASTRON)
10:00 HI mapping (BINGO, HIRAX) [Title TBC] Alexandre Refregier (ETHZ)
10:20 Modeling dwarf galaxies: a critical stepping stone towards the simulation of the Epoch of Reionization Yves Revaz (EPFL)
10:40 Coffee Break
Session on SKA Data Science (room 1.047)
Chair: André Csillaghy (FHNW)
11:05 SKA Computing Challenges Miles Deegan (SKA, HPC Specialist and SDP Engineer)
11:25 „Bluebild“: An accurate, flexible imager and its efficient implementation Paul Hurley (IBM-Zurich)
11:40 The interferometric imaging challenge: MeerKAT towards SKA Oleg Smirnov (SKA, SA)
11:55 Wide-Band Radio-interferometric imaging in the SKA era Yves Wiaux (Heriot Watt/EPFL)
12:10 HPC and Data Services for Science at CSCS Claudio Gheller (CSCS)
12:25 Benchmarking Martin Melchior (FHNW)
12:40 Standing Lunch
Parallel Sessions: Astrophysics (room 1.047)
Chairs: Tyler Bourke (SKA) & Alexandre Refregier (ETHZ)
14:00 New Approaches to AI Astrophysics Kevin Schawinski (ETHZ) space.ml
14:15 Weak lensing of 21cm intensity mapping Mona Jalivand (UniGE)
14:30 Giant molecular clouds seen 8 billion years ago Miroslova Dessauges (UniGE)
14:45 Origin and evolution of cosmic magnetic fields Jennifer Schober (EPFL)
15:00 Isotope astrochemistry with ALMA and perspectives for SKA Susanne Wampfler (CSH, UniBE)
15:15 Strong Lensing in Radio [TBC] Frederic Courbin (EPFL)
15:30 Pulsars as a probe of relativistic spacetime and dark matter in the Galactic center Prasenjit Saha (UniZH)
15:45 Discussion
Parallel Sessions: Data Science (room 1.045)
Chairs: Miles Deegan (SKA) & Paul Hurley (IBM)
14:00 ASKAP DATA Processing using Apache Flink streaming platform Muhammad Saad (UniZH)
14:20 Bluebild with Flexibeam: A New Paradigm for Multi-beam Observations for the SKA Simeoni (EPFL/IBM-Research)
14:40 Pypeline : A fast open-source package for advanced imaging with Bluebild Sepand Kashani (IBM Research)
15:00 Discussion

Keynote Speakers

  • Catherine Cesarsky (SKA, Chair of the Board, F)
  • Xavier Reymond (SERI, CH)
  • Fernando Camilo (MeerKat, Chief Scientist, SA)
  • Chiara Ferrari (OCA, France)
  • Claudio Gheller (CSCS, CH)
  • Paul Hurley (IBM-Zurich, CH)
  • Baerbel Koribalski (CSIRO, ASKAP, PI of Wallaby, AUS)
  • Isabella Prandoni (INAF, It)
  • Alexandre Refregier (ETHZ, CH)
  • Oleg Smirnov (SKA, SA)
  • Tom Oosterloo (ASTRON, PI of Apertif, NL)



The venue is hosted by the Institute for Data Science FHNW, at the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, or University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland. It is located in the Campus Brugg-Windisch. The meeting will be in Building 1, at the Address Klosterzelgstrasse 2, 5210 Windisch.

Getting there by air:
The two closest airports are Zurich Airport (ZRH) and Basel Euroairport (BSL).

Getting there by public transportation:
The building is a 3-minute walk away from the Brugg train station. (Windisch is adjacent to the city of Brugg – these 2 cities merged long time ago.) The station name is BRUGG AG. There are many trains. Train schedules and advance ticket purchase can be found at: www.rail.ch.

The Brugg railway station is located ~40 minutes from the station at Zurich Airport, ~30 minutes from Zurich Central Station (Hauptbahnhof, HB). There is a direct train from Zurich airport, but you can also take any connection to Zurich HB and change there.

From Basel Euroairport, you need to take a bus first to Basel Central Station, then there is a direct train every 30 minutes. The trip will take you about an hour.

Getting there by car:
There is parking in the building, but it tends to fill up early, so you may want to plan with the two alternative parkings: https://goo.gl/maps/Xj2X5fP1xJ22 and https://goo.gl/maps/XxkqGWXEG7x



Lodging in Brugg is simple and expensive for what it offers, but it is clean, safe and walking distance to the meeting. There is a *** hotel across the street from the railway station, called Hotel Terminus.

Hotel Terminus

If you are ready to dive into a special countryside experience, there are two options, but be prepared that personnel might not be speaking English: Rotes Haus, Hotel Gotthard

Hotel Rotes Haus

Hotel Gotthard

A recommendable lodging place is Gästehaus Alice Brugg but it has only a few rooms.

Gästehaus Alice

The city of Baden, which is a 7 minutes train ride from Brugg, has better hotels. From Baden station, you can walk to the Blue City Hotel, the Trafo Hotel, or the Hotel Du Parc. The Atrium Hotel Blume is a bit further away but very nice.

Of course, all hotels in Zurich are good options if you are not impressed by a 30 minutes commute.

If you need any further assistance, please contact Hanna Troxler, our administrative assistant, and we can help you: ‭+41 56 202 74 52, hanna.troxler(at)fhnw.ch.