An important goal for the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) Project or any large radio telescope array is to investigate ultra wide band feeds with low noise performance that show promise for low fabrication and maintenance costs. Further development of the SETI Institute Ambient ATA Feed is of great interest. The feed originally developed by Jack Welch, Greg Engargiola, Matt Fleming and other staff from the SETI Institute, UC Berkeley and Minex has demonstrated performance from 0.5 to 11.2 GHz. An additional design effort was organized as part of the US SKA, Technology Development Program (TDP) funded by the US National Science Foundation. The improved design features a shortened feed structure fully contained in a vacuum radome and cooled to near 70K. The new design performs from 0.9 to 18 GHz, although it is difficult to find a Low Noise Amplifier (LNA) with similar range. A lab prototype of the Cooled ATA Feed was tested in 2012 with good results.
Although NSF funding for this research has ended, The SETI Institute has obtained funding to continue development of this feed design with the intention to install it on the 42 element ATA Instrument. This improvement to the ATA capability is of great interest to all users.
All images are from the Minex Staff.