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26th of February 2015
ASKAP Highlights - Mk II Phased-Array Feed
by Aaron Chippendale (CASS)
This is the first Mk II phased-array feed (PAF), which was installed on ASKAP antenna 29 in September 2014. The Mk II PAF has significantly improved astronomical performance compared to the Mk I. It also employs new technologies to improve operability and maintainability. Optical fibre transports all PAF signals to the central signal processor, up to six kilometres away. Thermoelectric cooling maintains a workable and stable temperature with just one moving part, a simple fan to blow air over external heat exchangers. The outer case of the PAF is built using marine composite technology to manage structural loading while providing thermal insulation, environmental protection, and electromagnetic shielding. See Hampson (2012) for a full description.

Phased-array feeds allow radio telescope dishes to capture information from a larger area of sky in a single pointing. ASKAP PAFs capture information from a 30 deg2 field-of-view, around 20 times more sky than a traditional "single-pixel" feed would see on the same dish. CSIRO developed sensitive phased-array feeds for ASKAP that are dual-polarised, low-profile, and inherently wide-band. They are based on a connected-element "chequerboard" array (Hay and O'Sullivan 2008) and have won national awards for engineering excellence and innovation.

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