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A highlight reel for ASKAP: 2013 in review

Five ASKAP antennas standing at the MRO under a sunny sky.
People looking at a SMART board in the Science Operations Centre.
The system noise temperature from measurements of a prototype ASKAP ADE PAF, with estimated uncertainties that are currently being refined. The representative array has 40 elements and was tested as a directly receiving array using the Parkes 'aperture array' test facility. The result demonstrates very good low-noise performance across the 0.7-1.8GHz frequency range required for ASKAP. A larger array will perform better at the lower end of this frequency range.
Participants in the ASKAP Early Science Workshop.

20 December 2013

As another year comes to a close, there are a number of key achievements to highlight for the ASKAP team.

At the home of ASKAP, the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia, the installation of the first six phased array feed (PAF) receivers on ASKAP antennas was completed. These six antennas and their associated digital systems form the Boolardy Engineering Test Array, or BETA, which provides an essential engineering testbed for the ASKAP team to prepare for the full fit-out of ASKAP.

The ASKAP Design Enhancement (ADE) program recently achieved a major milestone, in confirmation on the ADE design for the second generation (MkII) ASKAP PAF receiver system. Recent tests of the MkII prototype returned near-optimal system noise temperature results across the ASKAP band.

Various commissioning activities with three of the ‘BETA’ ASKAP antennas at the MRO achieved:

While the commissioning team continues to travel to the MRO to do these tests, much work is also being done remotely from the Marsfield Science Operations Centre (SOC), allowing the team to optimise both the remote accessibility of the ASKAP antennas from the Sydney headquarters of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), and debug and commission the instrument itself.

The ASKAP Early Science program was also launched this year, with a successful workshop and discussions preceeding the release of a draft program in September. Additionally, work continued with the ASKAP Survey Science Teams (SSTs) on early science simulations.

More recently, great news from the international SKA project, with the announcement that CSIRO will play a lead role in the next stage of the ambitious international SKA project. CASS has recently established the CSIRO SKA Centre to coordinate SKA-related activities within the organisation, provide science and engineering expertise and guide engagement in the SKA project.

Other highlights include:

In the coming year, we look forward to:

  • Ongoing software development to support the ASKAP Design Enhancements (ADE) program
  • Production of the MkII PAF receiver systems, and the start of deployment at the MRO.
  • Preparation for the ASKAP Early Science program.
  • An Engineers Australia exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, where the PAF will be one of five main projects on display.

For more information, please sign up to the ASKAP Update newsletter, the latest edition of which has just been released for December 2013.

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