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Curtin Uni inks instrument contract for WA radiotelescope

Poseidon Scientific to build kit for Murchison array

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Curtin University has awarded a $AU1.3 million contract to Fremantle-based Poseidon Scientific Instruments to supply electronics packages for the Murchison Wide-field Array telescope.

The MWA is part of a boom in radio-astronomy in Australia’s radio-quiet northwest. The region is also the site for Australia’s bid for the Square Kilometer Array (of which the MWA is a participant) and is home to its precursor project, the SKA Pathfinder.

Poseidon’s specialty is in developing ultra-low phase noise oscillators, and the company lists the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (now building the MWA) among its past customers.

For the MWA, Poseidon is to build 16 instrument packages designed for Western Australia’s somewhat challenging environment. While its relative lack of radio interference is a big plus for the radio telescope, the temperature range over the course of a year isn’t friendly to electronics: the summer maximum will often exceed 40 Degrees Celsius, and the winter nights can drop below freezing.

As well as surviving the climate, the instrument packages also need to be ultra-quiet themselves, so as not to interfere with other instruments at the site.

ICRAR deputy director Professor Steven Tingay said this contract is the culmination of “more than two years of collaboration in which PSI [has] been deeply involved in the design cycle.”

“The combination of the MWA and the radio-quiet environment of the Murchison will allow us to search for the incredibly weak signals that come from the early stages in the evolution of the universe,” he said. ®

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