The Australian SKA Pathfinder – an update
Antony E.T. Schinckel(1) for The ASKAP Team(1),
(1) CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, Epping, NSW, 1710, Australia, http://www.atnf.csiro.au/projects/askap
The Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) will be the fastest cm-wave survey instrument in radio astronomy. ASKAP will consist of 36 12-meter 3-axis antennas in a 6 km diameter configuration providing up to 10 arcsec of resolution. Each antenna is equipped with a large checkerboard phased array feed (PAF) operating from 0.7 to 1.8 GHz, and digital beamformer preceding the correlator. The 96 dual-polarization elements (192 receivers) of the PAF and the subsequent beamformer will provide about 30 beams (at 1.4 GHz) to produce a 30 square degree field-of-view, allowing rapid, deep surveys of the entire visible sky. The antenna incorporates a third axis to fix the parallactic angle with respect to the entire optical system (blockage and phased array feed).
The first antenna was deployed at the MRO in late 2009, and the last was commissioned in June 2012, with installation of receivers, beamformers and the correlator now underway. Currently three antennas have Mk I Phased Array Feeds and their beamformers installed. CSIRO has commenced early commissioning of these as part of the BETA project to test and further develop PAFs and Beamforming for ASKAP. Development of the Mk II PAF and digital systems (which have significant improvements over the Mk I systems) is also progressing well.
The site of ASKAP is the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, 315 kilometres north east of Geraldton, Western Australia, a new radio astronomy observatory being developed by CSIRO. The MRO and surrounding region has been selected as one of the sites for the SKA.
A description of the ASKAP system, status and plans will be presented.