ASTRON has been working with representatives of the NRC (National Research Council, Canada) and CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) to undertake a collaborative measurement programme using three different receiver element designs as part of SKA pre-construction work.

Published by the editorial team, 3 June 2014

These phased array feed (PAF) demonstrators are being tested at CSIRO's Parkes Observatory, using the Parkes Testbed Facility. The PAFs being tested are not full-sized arrays, but a representative array with which it is possible to emulate the performance of a full-size PAF.

The three arrays are:

ASTRON 60 element (6x5) thin Vivaldi array
CSIRO 40 element (5x4) chequerboard array - similar to that used in the successful end-to-end system temperature measurement tests performed in late 2013
NRC 41 element thick Vivaldi array

The measurement programme involves a comparative set of measurements of three different arrays using a common radio astronomy ‘back end'. This back end comprises the BETA prototype analogue signal processing, digitisation, beamformer and correlator located at the Parkes site.

According to Dish Consortium lead Mark McKinnon, the aim of this activity is to test arrays which use examples of the various element technologies currently being considered for use in the SKA-Survey telescope.

'This is the first time that any of the radio astronomy institutions involved in the SKA have worked together to test their individual PAFs in a common facility,' says Mark, 'The tests will provide a useful performance benchmark, however they will not be the sole determining factor in element selection; it's a great opportunity for collaboration.'

All three organisations are involved in various SKA consortia, announced by the SKA Organisation in 2013. This measurement programme is a key collaborative exercise bringing together expertise from CSIRO and NRC for the Dish Consortium and ASTRON for LFAA and MFAA (the low- and mid-frequency aperture array consortia). Further analysis will continue, taking into account factors such as technology readiness, maintainability, manufacturability and manufacturing cost.

Click here for the original press release of ATNF. 


From left to right: Tom Burgess (NRC), Bruce Veidt (NRC), Roel Witvers (ASTRON), Robert Shaw (CSIRO) and Douglas Hayman (CSIRO). 


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