CASS and industry develop specialised PAF casings for ASKAP

A top-down view of the specialised PAF casing developed by the ASKAP team and Innovation Composites. Credit: CSIRO.

28 October 2013

CSIRO's ASKAP telescope is an internationally significant project using cutting-edge Australian technologies to demonstrate the innovative capacity of Australian science and industry. To achieve this, industry participation is crucial to deliver and support the technologies and infrastructure needed to design, develop and construct ASKAP.

An example of this relationship has developed between the ASKAP team and Innovation Composites, a Nowra-based company specialising in fibreglass and composite products.

To house ASKAP's innovative phased array feed (PAF) receivers installed on ASKAP antennas in the Mid-West region of Western Australia, the ASKAP team is working with Innovation Composites to produce receiver casings that are lighter and more cost-effective that previous designs, and integrate a number of functional requirements into a single part.

The second generation (MkII) PAF casing design incorporates marine composites technology to manage structural loading, thermal insulation and environmental protection in a single part, using a multi-skin foam-cored composite design with both glass-fibre and carbon-fibre reinforcement.

The carbon-fibre will also provide a level of RFI shielding, to prevent radio-frequency interference from the PAF's internal electronics impacting the radio-quiet atmosphere of the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) – home to CSIRO's ASKAP telescope.

The design also demonstrates how the application of industrial skills from disparate fields can be applied to problems in the construction of instruments for advanced science.

RFI shielding performance, pressurisation and thermal isolation tests will continue at the workshops of the CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science headquarters in Marsfield, before the prototype is deployed to the MRO.

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