System tests underway on Mk II PAF at the MRO

Setting up the ground aperture array tests. Credit: CSIRO

Setting up the Mk II PAF for aperture array tests.
Click on the image for the larger version.

The Mk II PAF, underground ground-based apeture array tests at the MRO. Credit: CSIRO

Ground-based aperture array tests underway.
Click on the image for the larger version.

6 August 2014

Initial ground-based system tests have been run on the first full-size, second generation (Mk II) ASKAP phased array feed receiver at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia.

The Mk II PAF was designed, developed, and constructed as part of the ASKAP Design Enhancements (ADE) program. Focused on design enhancement through new technologies and assembly techniques, the new receiver design offers significant benefits in system performance across the ASKAP band.

Tests on a proof-of-concept, 40-element Mk II PAF were conducted at CSIRO’s Parkes Observatory in late 2013, the results of which confirmed a design that would deliver close to a system temperature of 50K across the entire ASKAP frequency band.

Before leaving the Sydney labs of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, the full-size Mk II PAF prototype was subject to end-to-end system tests in preparation for deployment to the MRO.

Now on site, ground aperture array tests on the full-size Mk II prototype will provide vital information about the system operation.

The installation of the prototype PAF on the ground near an ASKAP antenna went smoothly as did the installation of its digital backend at the MRO Control Building. This system successfully captured 188 radio signals, each of 600 MHz bandwidth, from the PAF and transported them over 1.4 km of optical fibre to the digital backend.

With initial tests complete, the team will now analyse the results to generate an assessment of system performance before returning to the MRO to prepare for installation of the PAF on to an ASKAP antenna.

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