A Cyberinfrastructure platform to meet the needs of data intensive radio astronomy on route to the SKA

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Composite Antennas for Radio Telescopes

Last updated 4283 days ago by Russ Taylor

To achieve the immense collecting area of the Square Kilometre Array requires a new paradigm for the design and manufacture of radio frequency antenna systems. At the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory new technology radio antennas are under development using the technologies of advanced composite materials.

These figures shows the 10-metre diameter prototype antenna in place at the DRAO.  The panel at left is a measurement of the deviations of the surface from a perfect parabolic shape.  The RMS deviatiations, measured are 0.54 mm, well exceeding the accuracy required for the SKA.


These new technology antennas offer several advantages over traditional metal antennas, including:

  • low-cost manufacturing in large numbers via mold injection,
  • very high strength to weight ratio compared to traditional materials, thereby minimizing distortions due to gravity and other external forces, and reducing costs of the support structure, and
  • very small thermal coefficient of expansion compared to metal, thereby minimizing distortion from uneven heating and temperature variations.

Designs are currently under way for a 15-m diameter offset paraboloid antenna, shown below.