Callisto report on cryogenic cooling options for the SKA dish array
A key performance measure of the SKA, in comparison with existing radio telescopes, is a major improvement in telescope sensitivity. The simplest measure of this is the ratio of effective collecting area to the system temperature (Ae/Tsys), a proxy for the signal-to-noise ratio obtained when observing celestial objects. Applied to dishes from a cost perspective, the relative cost of increasing the total number or sizes of dishes is much greater than the cost of reducing Tsys.
The scale of the SKA is so large, however, that the standard technique of cyro-cooling parts of the feed antennas and the first amplifiers (LNAs) may not be practical. Nevertheless, the capital value of one Kelvin can be shown to be in excess of 10 million Euros for the full SKA, depending on assumptions. As result of this analysis, the SPDO commissioned a survey of options and cost-benefit relations for cryo-cooling of receivers on dishes, which was completed in March, 2012. The survey was carried out by Callisto Limited, a UK/French company, with considerable experience in this field.
Download report here. (8MB)
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