Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder

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Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder
CSIRO ScienceImage 2161 Close up of a radio astronomy telescope with several more in the background.jpg
Antennas of the ASKAP telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia
Part ofAustralia Telescope National Facility
Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory
Square Kilometre Array Edit this on Wikidata
Location(s)Western Australia, Australia Edit this at Wikidata
Coordinates26°41′46″S 116°38′13″E / 26.696°S 116.637°E / -26.696; 116.637Coordinates: 26°41′46″S 116°38′13″E / 26.696°S 116.637°E / -26.696; 116.637 Edit this at Wikidata
OrganizationCSIRO Edit this on Wikidata
Telescope styleradio interferometer Edit this on Wikidata Edit this at Wikidata
Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder is located in Australia
Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder
Location of Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder

The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a radio telescope array located at Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in the Australian Mid West. ASKAP consists of 36 identical parabolic antennas, each 12 metres in diameter, working together as a single instrument with a total collecting area of approximately 4,000 square metres.

It is operated by the governmental research agency CSIRO and forms part of the Australia Telescope National Facility.[1]

ASKAP's combination of fast survey speed and high sensitivity will allow activities such as researching the creation and early evolution of the Universe, analysing cosmic magnetism, testing predictions of the general theory of relativity, mapping black holes, and exploring the origins of galaxies.[2][3]

ASKAP is also a technology demonstrator for the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a planned radio telescope that is planned to be the world's largest and most sensitive.[4] The ASKAP's home, the MRO, has also been selected as one of the SKA's two central location.[5]

Construction on ASKAP began in late 2009 and it was opened in October 2012, ready to become the world's fastest survey[clarification needed] radio telescope.[6][7]


Development and construction of ASKAP was led by CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), in collaboration with scientists and engineers in The Netherlands, Canada and the US, as well as colleagues from Australian universities and industry partners in China.[6]

The Wajarri Yamatji people are the traditional owners of the land on which the observatory lies[relevant? ].


External video
Watch a video of the first ASKAP antenna construction at the MRO in January 2010.

The construction and assembly of the dishes was completed in June 2012.[8]

The features that will make ASKAP an unprecedented synoptic telescope include a wide field-of-view, large spectral bandwidth, extremely fast survey speed, and excellent u-v coverage.[9]

Installation of an advanced Phased Array Feed (PAF) receiver on an ASKAP antenna. This feed includes 188 individual receivers, to greatly extend the Field of View of an ASKAP 12m dish to 30 square degrees.

ASKAP is located in the Murchison district in Western Australia, a region that is extremely "radio-quiet" due to the low population density and resultant lack of radio interference (generated by human activity) that would otherwise interfere with weak astronomical signals.[10]

The unique radio quiet nature is being recognised as a natural resource and is being protected by the Australian Commonwealth and Western Australia State Government through a range of protective regulatory measures.

Data from ASKAP will be transmitted from the MRO to a supercomputer at the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre in Perth. The data will be converted to images of the sky in near-real-time by a pipeline processor running the purpose-built ASKAPsoft package.[11] All data will be placed in the public domain after being checked for quality by the ten ASKAP Survey Science Teams. Post processing will be supported by supercomputers operated by iVEC at the Pawsey Centre[12] in Perth, and may also be complemented by 'theSkyNet',[13] a "community computing initiative"[14] similar to Seti@home.


The array in 2010

During ASKAP's first five years of operation, at least 75% of its time will be used for large Survey Science Projects. ASKAP is expected to make substantial advances in key areas, including the following:[15]

  1. Galaxy formation and gas evolution in the nearby Universe through extragalactic HI surveys
  2. Evolution, formation and population of galaxies across cosmic time via high resolution, continuum surveys
  3. Characterisation of the radio transient sky through detection and monitoring (including VLBI) of transient and variable sources, and
  4. Evolution of magnetic fields in galaxies over cosmic time through polarisation surveys.

ASKAP Survey Science Projects[edit]

In 2009, after an open call for proposals, CSIRO announced that ten major science projects had been selected to use ASKAP.[16] Of the ten projects' authors, 33% were from Australia and New Zealand, 30% from North America, 28% from Europe, and 9% from elsewhere in the world.

The ten ASKAP Survey Science Projects are:

Highest Priority[edit]

Slightly Lower Priority[edit]

  • COAST: Compact Objects with ASKAP: Surveys and Timing
  • CRAFT: The Commensal Real-time ASKAP Fast Transients survey
  • DINGO: Deep Investigations of Neutral Gas Origins[19]
  • FLASH: The First Large Absorption Survey in HI[20]
  • GASKAP: The Galactic ASKAP Spectral Line Survey[21]
  • POSSUM: Polarization Sky Survey of the Universe's Magnetism[22]
  • VAST: An ASKAP Survey for Variables and Slow Transients[23]
  • VLBI: The High Resolution Components of ASKAP: Meeting the Long Baseline Specifications for the SKA

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Australia Telescope National Facility". CSIRO. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  2. ^ Kebede, Rebekah. "World's fastest radio telescope starts up in Australian outback". Reuters. Retrieved 5 October 2012.
  3. ^ "ASKAP Science Update, Vol. 1" (PDF). CSIRO. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  4. ^ "SKA Factsheet for Journalists" (PDF). SKA Project Development Office (SPDO). Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  5. ^ "Report of the SKA Siting Options Working Group" (PDF). SKA Organisation. 14 June 2012.
  6. ^ a b "ASKAP Fast Facts" (PDF). CSIRO. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  7. ^ Fingas, Jon (5 October 2012). "Australia Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder goes live as the world's quickest radio telescope". Engadget. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  8. ^ "ASKAP News". 18 June 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  9. ^ "Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory". CSIRO. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  10. ^ "World's biggest radio telescope, Square Kilometre Array". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  11. ^ "ASKAP Science Update, Vol. 5" (PDF). CSIRO. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  12. ^ "Pawsey Centre". iVEC. 14 June 2012. Archived from the original on 7 March 2013.
  13. ^ "theSkyNet Data". International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
  14. ^ "theSkyNet comes alive". Australia and New Zealand SKA project (anzSKA). Australian Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. Archived from the original on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  15. ^ "ASKAP Science". CSIRO. Retrieved 8 November 2010.
  16. ^ "CSIRO sets science path for new telescope". CSIRO. Archived from the original on 19 March 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  17. ^ "EMU: Evolutionary Map of the Universe". 7 November 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  18. ^ "WALLABY – the ASKAP HI All-Sky Survey". Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  19. ^ "DINGO". Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  20. ^ "Sydney Institute for Astronomy – The University of Sydney". 15 September 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  21. ^ "GASKAP". Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  22. ^ "ASKAP POSSUM – Home Page". 24 August 2012. Archived from the original on 12 October 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  23. ^ "VAST: Variables and Slow Transients: Main – Home Page browse". Retrieved 18 January 2013.

External links[edit]