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13 December 2020 A prototype model for evaluating SKA-LOW station calibration
A. J. J. van Es, M. G. Labate, M. F. Waterson, J. Monari, P. Bolli, D. Davidson, R. Wayth, M. Sokolowski, P. Di Ninni, G. Pupillo, G. Macario, G. Virone, L. Ciorba, F. Paonessa
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Abstract
The Square Kilometre Array telescope at low-frequency (SKA-Low) will be a phased array telescope supporting a wide range of science cases covering the frequency band 50 - 350 MHz, while at the same time asking for high sensitivity and excellent characteristics. These extremely challenging requirements resulted in a design using 512 groups of 256 log periodic dual polarized antennas each (where each group is called “station”), for a total of 131072 antennas. The 512 stations are randomly distributed mostly within a dense area around the centre of the SKA-Low, and then in 3 arms having 16 station clusters each. In preparation for the SKA Phase 1 (SKA1) System Critical Design Review (CDR), prototype stations were deployed at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) site (Western Australia) near the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope. The project involved multiple parties in an International collaboration building and testing different prototypes of the SKA1-Low station near the actual site. This resulted in both organisational and logistic challenges typical of a deployment of the actual telescope. The test set-up involved a phased build-up of the complex station of log-periodic antennas, by starting from the deployment of 48 antennas and related station signal processing (called AAVS1.5, where AAVS stands for Aperture Array Verification System), followed by expansion to a full station (AAVS2.0). As reference a station with dipole antennas EDA2 (EDA: Engineering Development Array) was deployed. This test set-up was used for an extensive test and evaluation programme. All test antenna configurations were simulated in detail by electromagnetic (EM) models, and the prediction of the models was further verified by appropriate tests with a drone-based radio frequency source. Astronomical observations on Sun and galaxy transit were performed with calibrated stations of both EDA2, AAVS1.5 and AAVS2.0. All 3 configurations were calibrated. EM modelling and calibration results for the full station AAVS2.0 and EM verification for the AAVS1.5 station are presented. The comparisons between the behaviour of the log-periodic antennas and the dipoles have advanced our understanding the calibration quality and the technological maturity of the future SKA1-Low array.
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© (2020) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
A. J. J. van Es, M. G. Labate, M. F. Waterson, J. Monari, P. Bolli, D. Davidson, R. Wayth, M. Sokolowski, P. Di Ninni, G. Pupillo, G. Macario, G. Virone, L. Ciorba, and F. Paonessa "A prototype model for evaluating SKA-LOW station calibration", Proc. SPIE 11445, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes VIII, 1144589 (13 December 2020); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2562391
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Cited by 2 scholarly publications.
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KEYWORDS
Antennas

Calibration

Telescopes

Prototyping

Astronomy

Device simulation

Galactic astronomy

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