High Energy Cosmic Particles

The High Energy Cosmic Particles Focus Group has assembled the first field prototype (pictured) for a particle-detector system for the SKA. Compared to the previous benchtop prototype, this version is smaller, cheaper, more robust and more portable. It is designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the Murchison site of SKA-LOW, while maintaining a solid conductive seal to prevent radio interference from escaping the enclosure. The internal systems are a developed version of those in the benchtop prototype.

This field prototype was featured in a live public demonstration at the Bluedot festival, which engulfed Jodrell Bank Observatory – home of the SKA headquarters – in three days of music, art and science for three days over 20-22 July. As part of a panel discussion on multi-messenger astronomy, chaired by Prof. Ben Stappers, an audience of several hundred learned about the SKA and saw the prototype detecting cosmic rays in real time. Many thanks go to James and Rohini, who assisted with the demonstration.

Field prototype of the particle-detector system. The weatherproof enclosure was manufactured by Alma Sheet Metals in Macclesfield, Cheshire. With internal systems installed, the prototype weighs around 40kg, and can be carried by two people.

Report provided by Justin Bray