27 July 2016 An innovative, highly sensitive receiver system for the Square Kilometre Array Mid Radio Telescope
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Abstract
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project is a global science and engineering project realizing the next-generation radio telescopes operating in the metre and centimetre wavelengths regions. This paper addresses design concepts of the broadband, exceptionally sensitive receivers and reflector antennas deployed in the SKA1-Mid radio telescope to be located in South Africa. SKA1-Mid (350 MHz – 13.8 GHz with an option for an upper limit of ~24 GHz) will consist of 133 reflector antennas using an unblocked aperture, offset Gregorian configuration with an effective diameter of 15 m. Details on the unblocked aperture Gregorian antennas, low noise front ends and advanced direct digitization receivers, are provided from a system design perspective. The unblocked aperture results in increased aperture efficiency and lower side-lobe levels compared to a traditional on-axis configuration. The low side-lobe level reduces the noise contribution due to ground pick-up but also makes the antenna less susceptible to ground-based RFI sources. The addition of extra shielding on the sub-reflector provides a further reduction of ground pick-up. The optical design of the SKA1-Mid reflector antenna has been tweaked using advanced EM simulation tools in combination with sophisticated models for sky, atmospheric and ground noise contributions. This optimal antenna design in combination with very low noise, partially cryogenic, receivers and wide instantaneous bandwidth provide excellent receiving sensitivity in combination with instrumental flexibility to accommodate a wide range of astronomical observation modes.
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Gie Han Tan, Robert Lehmensiek, Bhushan Billade, Krzysztof Caputa, Stéphane Gauffre, Isak P. Theron, Miroslav Pantaleev, Zoran Ljusic, Benjamin Quertier, Adriaan Peens-Hough, "An innovative, highly sensitive receiver system for the Square Kilometre Array Mid Radio Telescope", Proc. SPIE 9906, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes VI, 990660 (27 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2230897; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2230897
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