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2nd of April 2020
New radome covers for the ATCA
by Jamie Stevens
Can you spot the difference between these two ATCA antennas? The observatory has recently discovered that our 30-year old Goretex radome covers are leaking water and delaminating, making it easier for them to fly off in high wind. Kun Lee and Alex Dunning have evaluated several new materials to replace these covers, since the currently-used material is no longer available.

Two of the ATCA antennas have been fitted with the new Dyneema radome covers, including CA04 (pictured on the left). This material is used in lightweight tents and bags, and is incredibly strong for its thickness and weight. Bench tests have indicated that the material is very radio transparent, and astronomical tests have been unable to tell the difference between the old and new covers up to 50 GHz. And as an added benefit, the new covers seem to be a lot more opaque to UV, which will likely mean less breakdown of UV-sensitive materials in the vertex room. Rollout of more covers will continue once the factories producing the material come back online after the COVID-19 shutdowns. (Photo credit: Jamie Stevens. Caption: Mike George and Kun Lee)

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