Presentation #103.50 in the session Missions and Instruments.
The Cherenkov Telescope Array Observatory (CTAO) will be a next-generation facility for observations of very high-energy (VHE) gamma-ray sources sensitive to energies 20 GeV - 300 TeV. Funding has now been secured and construction is beginning for the “Alpha Configuration,” consisting of observatories in the Atacama Desert (Chile) in the southern hemisphere and at La Palma (Spain) in the north. The Alpha Configuration will achieve sensitivity as much as an order of magnitude better than existing instruments. The Astro2020 Decadal Survey has recommended U.S. participation in CTAO as part of the Multi-Messenger Program for the 2020s, and in particular recommended support for the southern array inclusion of Schwarzschild-Couder Telescopes (SCTs), which use a novel design incorporating a secondary mirror to achieve superior performance over the core 100 GeV - 10 TeV energy region of CTAO. An international consortium of CTA members, led by the U.S., has developed and prototyped the 9.7-m-aperture SCT. The prototype telescope, located at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, was inaugurated in January of 2019 and observed gamma-ray emission from the Crab Nebula in early 2020. An upgrade of the pSCT camera is underway, aiming to equip the telescope with a full camera with upgraded photosensors and electronics, enhancing the field of view from the current 2.7° to the final 8°. In this contribution, we will provide an overview of the SCT design and status, and speak to its future as a major contributor towards CTAO scientific goals.