ASKAP 'moves in' to MRO Control Building

People standing in between two cabinets of electronics equipment.
A close-up of a hand holding an optic fibre in the foreground with blurred faces in the background.

14 December 2012

Construction activities for the MRO Control Building were completed in mid-2012, and the facility has since been officially handed over to the ASKAP team for occupation. The facility was specifically designed to overcome challenges associated with its remote location and its significance as the control centre of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) - home to CSIRO's ASKAP radio telescope and two other experiments currently located at the MRO: the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) and Experiment to Detect the Global Epoch of Reionization Signature (EDGES).

As distribution hub for power and data cables which connect the site to the outside world, development of the building required unique construction solutions for challenges associated with the remote location and stringent RFI specifications, which make the MRO one of the best locations for radio astronomy.

The MRO Control Building arrived by truck from South Australia in the form of modules in October 2011, as partially pre-fabricated sections ready for assembly on the site. Careful consideration has been taken to ensure minimal RFI impact by the building on the external radio-quiet environment of the MRO.

During recent occupation activities, the main focus was on the relocation of peripheral 'temporary installed' devices into the Control Building. These devices, necessary for observatory operation while the Control Building was being constructed, included beamformers, computing and networking equipment and a correlator for the first ASKAP antennas already installed with phased array receiver systems, housed previously in a modified 20' shipping container known as the 'BETA Box'.

The successful decommissioning of the BETA Box, and the recommissioning of data transport links from the digital receivers to the beamformers in the Control Building, now paves the way for commissioning of the next ASKAP antennas that will make up the second half of the six-antenna Boolardy Engineering Test Array (BETA).

For more information on the newly occupied MRO Control Building, please see the latest edition of the ASKAP Update.

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