From SKA: “Parkes telescope granted SKA Pathfinder status”

SKA Square Kilometer Array

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CSIRO/Parkes Observatory
CSIRO/Parkes Observatory

The iconic Parkes telescope in Australia, run by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), has been granted pathfinder status by SKA Organisation.

This announcement welcomes Parkes into the group of other world-leading instruments and systems engaged in SKA-related technology development and science studies, such as the Arecibo Observatory, LOFAR and the EVLA.

NAIC/Arecibo Observatory
NAIC/Arecibo Observatory

ASTRON LOFAR Radio Antenna Bank
ASTRON LOFAR Radio Antenna Bank

ASTRON LOFAR Map
ASTRON LOFAR Map

Parkes Observatory in New South Wales hosts the 64-metre Parkes radio telescope, affectionately known by many as ‘The Dish’.

Parkes has been in operation since 1961 and continues to be at the forefront of astronomical discovery thanks to regular upgrades. Its many contributions include playing an instrumental role in the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969, the detection of the majority of currently-known Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), and significant discoveries in the study of pulsars – a field in which the SKA will play a fundamental role.

Parkes’ newly-granted pathfinder status is based on its role in testing innovative new receivers. This includes deploying, commissioning and developing phased array feed (PAF) receivers for radio astronomy, based on the receivers designed and commissioned on CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope – itself one of three SKA precursor telescopes.

Parkes Phased Array Feed
Parkes Phased Array Feed

SKA ASKAP telescope
SKA ASKAP telescope

The PAF work at Parkes will play a key role in the technological development of these receivers, which are under consideration for the SKA.

The Dish recently welcomed the arrival of a PAF receiver, designed and built as part of an agreement with the Max Planck Institute for Radioastronomy (MPIfR). Once characterisation testing is complete on the Parkes telescope, this PAF will be deployed on the Effelsberg telescope in Germany.

MPIFR/Effelsberg Radio Telescope
MPIFR/Effelsberg Radio Telescope

Into the future Parkes will also develop ultra-wideband single pixel feed receivers, similar to those currently being developed by Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden as part of the development of SKA technologies.

Onsala 20 meter telescope exterior Sweden
Onsala Twenty meter telescope interior  Sweden
Onsala 20 meter telescope Sweden

A full list of SKA precursors and pathfinders is available on the SKA website.

See the full article here .

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SKA CSIRO  Pathfinder Telescope
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About SKA

The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.