ngVLA antenna prototype ready for production

(ORDO NEWS) — The next-generation Very Large Array (ngVLA) antenna prototype design has undergone an intensive five-day review.

The review, which took place in Wiesbaden, was attended by scientists and engineers from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the NSF National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and mtex antenna technology GmbH, which was contracted to develop the design and manufacture the prototype.

Representatives from NRAO and mtex demonstrated the details of the design to a panel of experts from the US and South Africa.

The experts concluded that the design complies with ngVLA requirements and is ready for production.

NgVLA, a powerful radio telescope with 263 dish antennas distributed across North America, will be one of the next generation of advanced astronomical observatories designed for leading research applications.

The sensitivity of the telescope will allow observing faint objects, and its resolution will be more than 10 times higher than the current VLA performance.

NRAO and mtex signed a contract in mid-2021 to design and prototype 244 18m antennas. Additional 19.6m antennas are not part of this contract.

Based on the NRAO specifications and the concept design study, NRAO and mtex worked intensively to refine the details of the design to the point where prototype production could begin.

The prototype will be built by pre-selected suppliers and will undergo initial testing in 2023.

In early 2024, it will be sent to the VLA site in New Mexico, where after extensive testing it will be installed in the current VLA.

When the engineers make final adjustments, the project will move on to mass production, which will be awarded a separate contract.

Construction could begin in 2025, with early science observations scheduled to start in 2028 and full science operations in 2035.

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