National awards recognise engineering excellence of the ASKAP PAF

CSIRO's ASKAP antennas, installed with innovative new PAF receivers. A close-up of the PAF chequerboard is visible in the inset..

21 November 2013

CSIRO's innovative new phased array feed (PAF) receiver system, developed for ASKAP, the SKA and radio astronomy, has taken home a national Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Award at a ceremony in Canberra last night.

The Australian Engineering Excellence Awards recognise world-class expertise and innovation in developing and implementing engineering solutions.

Earlier this year, the ASKAP PAF won two Sydney division Engineering Excellence Awards - in Innovations & Inventions and Research & Development. For the national finalists, the judging panel seeks to identify unique projects that demonstrate outstanding excellence, innovation and best practice.

As the first chequerboard receiver built specifically for radio astronomy, the ASKAP PAF uses a revolutionary technique for receiving radio astronomy signals to simultaneously sample large areas of sky, providing ASKAP with a large field of view.

Six 'first generation' ASKAP PAF systems are already installed on ASKAP antennas at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia, along with associated digital systems, beamformer and hardware correlator. Continued commissioning tests have already produced the first multi-beam image with a three-PAF system, as well as the first detection of a spectral line with an ASKAP system, another step in validation of the use of PAFs for radio astronomy.

Development of the PAF system is a result of close collaboration between researchers of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) and CSIRO Computational Informatics (CCI).

At the ceremony, CSIRO Computational Informatics also picked up an award for their wireless tracking technology known as WASP (Wireless Ad hoc System for Positioning), licensed last year to Catapult Sports, through CSIRO's Digital Productivity and Services Flagship.

Watch this video to find out more about the development of the Phased Array Feed receiver [external site].

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