SKA – single element overview

Single Meerkat radio telescope element

Single Meerkat radio telescope element

The image above shows a single telescope forming part of the Meerkat project which is planned to form part of the future +- 500 telescope Square Kilometer Array.

The feed consists of two dual-polarised horn antennas, five conical deflector cones (where future horns could be inserted), cooling components, LNA’s and RF- to-fibre modulators. The struts are also designed to maintain strict tolerances on the feed position relative to the parabolic reflecting surface.

The 12m dish is made of a resin-foam composite and has a parabolic shape with 0.38 F/D ratio. It has to maintain its shape within millimeter tolerances and remain an almost perfect electromagnetic reflector while withstanding harsh environmental conditions like temperature variations, rain and strong winds etc.

The dish mount is an altitude-azimuth system and rests on a concrete pedestal. Another challenge is constantly stabilising the telescope, compensating for external forces like wind, gravity or metal expansion (and contraction due to large temperature changes) which can pull the whole structure off target or cause unwanted spillover.

In the next few blog entries I will discuss these interesting and potentially challenging topics in a bit more detail.

Author: Robert Kellerman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *