Pre-production on Mk II PAFs underway

Pre-production of the Mk II PAF underway at the Sydney headquarters of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science. Credit: CSIRO

September 2014

Concurrent to preliminary system tests and installation of the Mk II PAF prototype on an ASKAP antenna at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, back at the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science lab in Sydney pre-production of the first eight Mk II PAF systems is now underway.

The development of the Mk II PAF system has progressed via a design optimisation program focused on improving manufacturability and making operational enhancements through the use of new technologies and assembly techniques.

The enhancements achieved with the Mk II PAF in reduced cost and weight of the systems, improved performance, and long-term reliability also offer secondary benefits such as a reduction in operational power requirements and an increase in digital processing flexibility.

The Mk II design process has taken advantage of external skills through industry partnerships and engagements, to adapt a diverse range of mature technologies to the problems of developing new instruments for radio astronomy.

This has allowed the design team access to use a wide range of components, materials and assembly techniques to increase efficiency, improve performance, and reduce costs.

  • Marine composites technologies have been used in the new PAF casing design that integrates management of structural integrity and stability, thermal insulation, environmental protection and RFI shielding.
  • Heat-pipe technologies used in thermal management in spacecraft have been applied to the specially designed receiver groundplanes, which, along with solid-state thermo-electric cooling, will ensure a stable operating temperature for increased system reliability and on-sky observing time between receiver calibrations.


The important industry relationships with that have been built during the Mk II PAF development are a key step in bringing a much wider range of skills to bear on the challenges of rolling out these new receiver technologies on the scales needed to make ASKAP, and the SKA, into realities.

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