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Dishes will form a substantial part of the SKA; around 3000 dishes, each 15 m in diameter, are currently planned. Many aspects of the SKA dish-design challenge are without precedent, not only because of the large numbers of dishes required, but also because of the huge sensitivity that will result.
Although sensitivity is a strong driver of the SKA system design, there is also a need to carry out surveys of large regions of the sky.
A small number of large dishes could provide high sensitivity but many smaller dishes with larger field of view offer the prospect of faster surveys of the sky.
This trade-off has resulted in the adoption of dishes with a diameter of 15 m to give both a good field of view whilst also allowing high sensitivity for a reasonable cost.
The following are some of the major requirements that are being addressed as part of the dish design process:
- Imaging dynamic range
- Design for mass manufacture
- Low operating cost per dish
- Rapid installation with minimum manpower and equipment
- Feed flexibility
- Maximum sensitivity per dish
No existing radio telescope design has matched these requirements in combination.
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