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3rd of May 2021
The cryoPAF team
The CryoPAF (cryogenically cooled Phased Array Feed) took one step closer to installation on Parkes with assembly of the cryostat and a cooldown at Marsfield in April. It took many months of R&D to find the right coating for the CryoPAF’s unique rocket elements. The CryoPAF being cooled to cryogenic temperatures (below -150 C), we wanted these aluminium elements to reflect as much heat as possible. After many tests, silver was found to be the best coating and and company was identified that was able to prepare all the elements.

The system takes around 24 hours to get down to the target temperature of around 35 Kelvin (-238 C). The colder a receiver is, the less ‘noisy’ it is. Because the signals our telescopes are trying to detect are so faint, we need to keep our receivers as ‘quiet’ as possible, so they don’t swamp the signals from distant space. It is planned to temporarily fit the CryoPAF on the 64m telescope ( Murriyang) at Parkes before Christmas, but the complete system (digitisers, beamformer and other parts of the digital backend) won’t be installed until next year. The image shows the cryoPAF team in the lab at Marsfield. (Text credit: Nick Carter and Mark Bowen)

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