Under the joint hosting arrangements, Australia will host the SKA’s survey telescope and its low frequency aperture array antennas.
As part of SKA Phase one, Australia’s existing 36 dish ASKAP survey telescope will be expanded out to 96 dishes. Equipped with phased array feed (PAF) technology, this element of the SKA will be able to survey large areas of the sky in great detail.
Low frequency aperture array
In Phase one, Australia will host several hundred thousand smaller ‘dipole’ antennas (each about a metre in height) which will intercept low frequency radio waves. This array will be expanded to several million antennas in Phase two.
A flythrough simulation of the SKA as it might appear in Australia can be found here: ASKAP and the SKA in Australia
Note: Although Australia and New Zealand submitted a joint bid to host the SKA, no SKA infrastructure is likely to be sited in New Zealand under the current dual site solution. Nevertheless, New Zealand remains a member of the SKA Organisation, and will maintain its close collaboration with Australia. Science and industry groups in New Zealand are currently preparing their contribution to the pre-construction phase.
SKA Precursor – ASKAP
The Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a new radio telescope that is providing an important testbed for SKA technology and will itself be incorporated into Phase one of the SKA.
The telescope has been designed and built by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in collaboration with leading overseas astronomers and engineers.
The Australian Government has committed funding of AUD $111 million to the Australian SKA Pathfinder.
To help meet the scientific, technical and budgetary goals of the international SKA, the ASKAP telescope will develop and trial highly innovative new technologies on timescales consistent with the overall international SKA plan. ASKAP comprises 36 twelve metre dish antennas, each of which will be equipped with a multi-element receiver, or phased array feed, to enable unprecedented surveys of the sky.
The ASKAP project is currently in an intense phase of technology development. All areas are at the cutting-edge of technology and scientists and engineers from the CSIRO are achieving significant breakthroughs in the design and construction of revolutionary new radio feeds.
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