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BEST : Basic Element for SKA Training

Introduction

Italian IRA-INAF proposes a re-instrumentation of a part (Effective area=8000m2) of the Northern Cross radiotelescope aimed at obtaining a large test bed, based on cylindrical antennas, to develop new technology and algorithms for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project.

The BEST test-bench provides valuable experience in the design of low-cost receivers, analog and digital beam forming, multibeaming, RFI mitigation with a large collecting area and high sensitivity, data transmission via optical fibre and correlation imaging of wide field-of-view techniques. The Northern Cross radiotelescope (Medicina, Italy) is a very suitable SKA work bench that could allow the investigation of many crucial points of the project definition.

The Northern Cross T-shaped radiotelescope

Northern Cross radiotelescope The Northern Cross T-shaped radiotelescope is one of the largest transit instruments in the northern hemisphere. It is composed of two arms: the E/W and the N/S one.

The E/W (35 x 564 m) is a large single cylindrical reflector equipped with 1536 dipoles. The N/S array is composed by 64 (24 x 7.5 m) cylindrical reflectors with 64 dipoles each (8 dipoles x 8 blocks), for a total of 4096 dipoles.

By installing new low-cost / low noise front ends, the system temperature could be drastically reduced opening up many investigation in the low frequency radioastronomy field and, in addition, to the mentioned experiences for SKA design and construction.

BEST - Basic Element for Ska Training

This Italian demonstrator is named BEST (Basic Element for SKA Training) and it will be built in successive steps, with increasing dimensions exploiting the N/S arm reflectors:

  • The first step, named BEST-1, foresees 4 receivers installed on a single cylindrical reflector.
  • The second step, named BEST-2, foresees 32 receivers installed on 8 reflectors.
  • The third step, named BEST-3, foresees 192 receivers installed on 48 cylindrical reflectors and from a minimum of 6 to a maximum of 24 receivers in the East-West arm.

BEST specifications

Frequency: 400 – 416 MHz
Polarisation: Single Linear
Scan Volume: +/- 45 deg. from zenith and +/- 3.5 deg from the meridian
No of indep. FOV: 1 (15 squadre deg.)
Tsys: 90 deg K @ 408 MHz
Ant. element phase control: 6 bit
Instant. Bandwidth: 16 MHz
No of digitally independent beams: BEST-1: 3
BEST-2: 21
BEST-3: >400 (potential)

Northern Cross radiotelescope

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last update 2006 December 28, 12:17 by Steve Torchinsky