Antennas of CSIRO's ASKAP telescope

CSIRO's new ASKAP antennas at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory.

Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP)

The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a next-generation radio telescope being developed by CSIRO at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia.

  • 10 December 2010 | Updated 22 October 2012

What is ASKAP?

ASKAP is a world-leading radio telescope comprising an array of 36 antennas, each 12 metres in diameter, working together as a single instrument.

Construction of the first ASKAP antenna began in January 2010 and all 36 antennas were assembled by June 2012. The telescope was officially opened by the Hon. Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, on 5 October 2012.

ASKAP will commence early operations in 2013.

Location

ASKAP is located in the remote Mid West region of Western Australia, an area ideal for a new radio observatory.

The population density is very low and hence there is a lack of man-made radio signals that would otherwise interfere with weak astronomical signals.

ASKAP will pioneer and test revolutionary new technologies.

Collaboration

ASKAP is being developed by CSIRO, with input from leading scientists and engineers from the Netherlands, Canada, the USA, and a number of Australian universities.

Collaborations with industry partners are an important aspect of this project, particularly for information and communication technology, high-performance computing and mass-production manufacturing techniques.

Why build ASKAP?

ASKAP will be a telescope that can capture radio images with unprecedented sensitivity over large areas of sky.

With a large instantaneous field of view, ASKAP will be capable of vastly improved survey speeds compared with existing radio telescopes. In one week ASKAP will generate more information than is currently contained on the whole World Wide Web; in one month it will generate more information than is contained in the world's academic libraries.

This combination of survey speed and sensitivity will allow astronomers to answer some fundamental questions about cosmic magnetism and the evolution and formation of galaxies, and help them discover new pulsars and possibly gravitational waves.

ASKAP will provide Australian and international astronomers with another world-leading radio astronomy observatory. CSIRO will operate ASKAP along with its existing observatories, which are near the towns of Parkes, Coonabarabran and Narrabri in New South Wales.

ASKAP and the SKA

As well as carrying out cutting-edge science, ASKAP will pioneer and test revolutionary new technologies in areas of electrical engineering, digital systems, computing and signal transport.

ASKAP will provide key results and techniques to the international effort to design and develop the SKA, the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope.

ASKAP's home, the CSIRO-run Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, is where the SKA telescope infrastructure in Australia is to be centred. In SKA Phase 1, this infrastructure will consist of a low-frequency aperture array of 50 array stations, each with 10 000 individual antennas, and a 96-dish survey telescope incorporating the existing 36 dishes of ASKAP.

Learn more about Australia Telescope National Facility.