ASKAP team busy with Mk II PAF assembly ahead of deployment to site

Preliminary measurements show significant improvement in MkII PAF performance, January 2015. Credit: CSIRO

The second generation (MkII) PAF installed on ASKAP Antenna 29 at the MRO. Credit: CSIRO

The second generation (MkII) PAF installed on ASKAP Antenna 29 at the MRO. Credit: CSIRO

27 March 2015

The Sydney headquarters of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science is a hive of activity as production and assembly of the ASKAP phased array feed (PAF) receivers ramp up ahead of deployment to the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia.

The second generation (Mk II) phased array feed receivers for CSIRO's Australia SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope are produced and assembled at CSIRO Marsfield, with the PAF production team working closely with industry partners to produce specialised components that adapt a diverse range of mature technologies to the challenges of developing new technology for radio astronomy.

Production and assembly of the first eight Mk II PAFs is now underway, with complete testing of the first full-size production PAF (#01) being run at Marsfield to check primary monitor and control functionality of the system, along with end-to-end RF path testing through the digital receiver.

In parallel, the ASKAP Firmware team has been preparing digital backend systems for the first Mk II PAFs ahead of shipment to the MRO. This requires careful coordination and planning in order to minimise the impact to PAF testing and software integration activities with the systems. The beamformers for four complete ASKAP antennas have now been fully tested, and are carefully packed into crates for shipment to site.

Next, the correlator room in the MRO Control Building will be fitted-out in readiness for the start of the Mk II PAF deployment, following the recent arrival of 30 antennas’ worth of hardware to site.

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