ASKAP Telescope Receives SIEF Grant

The first multi-beam test image created with three ASKAP antennas at the MRO.

8 August 2013

CSIRO’s newest radio telescope, the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) has been awarded a $6m grant under the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF).

The funding will help ensure that the revolutionary ASKAP telescope can deliver the scientific capability required to ensure optimum scientific impact and lasting benefit to Australia.

Specifically, the grant will be used to fund the construction and installation of an additional six innovative receivers (or radio cameras) known as phased array feeds (or PAFs). PAFs have the ability to revolutionise the field of radio astronomy, transforming sky survey speeds by more than a factor of twenty.

With 36 antennas, ASKAP requires one PAF per antenna to achieve its full scientific potential. This SIEF funding will be complemented by an additional $6m commitment by CSIRO, which together will enable the number of PAFs on ASKAP antennas to be increased to a total of thirty.

Dr Lewis Ball, Chief of Astronomy and Space Science explained, “This new funding will help ASKAP become the largest, most sensitive survey radio telescope on the planet. As the number of PAFs on ASKAP increase, the scientific capability of ASKAP rises significantly, allowing the telescope to survey large areas of sky with unprecedented sensitivity and speed.”

He added, “ASKAP will be able to deliver transformational, ground breaking astronomy in the areas of cosmology, galaxy evolution, cosmic magnetic fields and the nature of gravity, continuing CSIRO’s role as a world leader in radio astronomy science. This extra funding from SIEF and CSIRO will increase ASKAP’s survey speed by a factor of almost four.”

Currently in its commissioning phase, the ASKAP telescope will exist as a standalone instrument before eventually forming the core of the future Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Phase 1 Survey telescope, to be built in Australia later this decade. This will see 60 new antennas added to ASKAP’s 36, with PAFs on all antennas.

The Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) provides grants to science and scientists for the purposes of assisting Australian industry, furthering the interests of the Australian community and contributing to the achievement of Australian national objectives.

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