Image from SKA organization & M. Fleming
The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. Thousands of linked radio wave receptors will be located in Australia and in Southern Africa. Combining the signals from the antennas in each region will create a telescope with a collecting area equivalent to a dish with an area of about one square kilometer. Visit: www.skatelescope.org
The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how galaxies have evolved since then, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth.
The Square Kilometer Array is a global science and engineering project led by the SKA Organization, a not-for-profit company with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK.
The United States and Canada have collaborated to create a prototype dish for the SKA called the Dish Verification Antenna 1 (DVA-1). This unit will be used to test a high performance antenna design concept that takes advantage of the cost savings from high volume on site fabrication. Design work on the telescope optics, reflectors, structures and drive systems began in the US in 2008 as part of the US SKA, Technology Development Program (TDP) funded by the US National Science Foundation. This group with members from throughout the US radio astronomy community selected the Offset Gregorian design similar to the ATA telescope and added shaped optics.
Meanwhile Canadian scientists and engineers of the Composite Applications for Radio Telescopes Project (CART) were developing techniques for manufacture of very large single piece reflectors. Minex Engineer Matt Fleming and NRC engineer Gordon Lacy worked in close collaboration to finalize the telescope mechanical design. As the need to build and test DAV-1 approached and US funding ended, the Canadian NRC took over responsibility for DVA-1 fabrication. Minex staff is to supply the mount, drive systems, encoder mounting and portions of the electrical distribution, while CART project members will provide both reflectors and the entire support system with most parts made from advanced composite materials. Installation of DVA-1 will begin during the summer of 2013 at the Dominion Radio Astronomy Observatory near Penticton Canada.
Minex is now fabricating the mount portion of DVA-1. Minex has provided extremely valuable knowledge of precision structures and drive systems for this prototype. Follow the photo gallery link to see images of DVA-1 design and fabrication at Minex.
Image from G. Lacy of NRC