Designing receiver casings for the SKA Pathfinder

Case study from: Co-hosting the SKA telescope

Case study from: Co-hosting the SKA telescope

Innovation Composites, a company based in Nowra, NSW, is a precision composites and fibreglass manufacturer. They have expertise that has evolved from the marine industry into a broader spectrum of work.

The Commonwealth Science Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is working with Innovation Composites to develop and produce radio frequency interference-shielded, high-strength, weather-proof and insulated casings for the Australian SKA Pathfinder’s (ASKAP) phased array feeds (PAF) receivers that are lighter and more cost-effective than the previous designs.

To house the PAF receivers, installed on ASKAP antennas, the design must integrate a number of functional requirements into a single part robust enough to endure the extreme climate and remote nature of the Murchison Radio Observatory (MRO).

The company works closely with CSIRO engineers to develop and manufacture a made to order design that will meet the special requirements demanded by the working environment of ASKAP. Success was achieved through applying the specialist production knowledge of Innovation Composites to the challenge of radio frequency interference—a well-known obstacle in radio astronomy.

The PAF casing design incorporates marine composites technology to manage structural loading, thermal insulation and environmental protection in a single part. The casing uses a multi-skin foam-covered composite design with both glass-fibre and carbon-fibre reinforcement.

The carbon-fibre will also provide a level of request for radio frequency interference (RFI) shielding, isolating the ASKAP receivers' internal electronics from the radio-quiet atmosphere of the Murchison Radio Observatory—home to CSIRO's ASKAP telescope.

The design also demonstrates how the application of industrial skills from disparate fields can be applied to problems in the construction of instruments for advanced science

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Read about Australia’s involvement in the SKA project.

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