ISSS Seminar: Reflector Antennas for Radio Astronomy

Speaker: Prof. Antony Brown,
Professor of Radiative Electromagnetics, Queen Mary University of London, UK | Professor Emeritus University of Manchester, UK

Date & Time: 16th May 2024, 11 AM to 12 Noon (UK Time).

Venue: Room EM2.33, Earl Mountbatten Building,
School of Engineering and Physical Sciences,
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK.

Abstract: This talk discusses radio astronomy and the importance of antennas within it. This includes cutting edge science instruments such as the Square Kilometre Array ( A brief overview of radio astronomy techniques is given including discussion of performance parameters and an introduction to interferometry techniques. From this we concentrate on the performance requirements of single antennas in a interferometric array. The design of the reflector radio telescope in the external environment to meet these requirements will be discussed which draws together radio frequency and mechanical design as well as manufacturing and test. Finally we look at digitally beamformed array fed reflectors. Sometimes seen as a” half-way house” between full phased arrays and a traditional reflector, in fact the array fed reflector can present serious design challenges. These are discussed and some of the more recent developments highlighted. At the conclusion of the talk will an extended discussion on reflector antennas, including trends and challenges, in both radio astronomy and other applications.

Professor Tony Brown started work in 1974 at the Marconi Research Laboratories at Great Baddow, Essex, UK working on large shaped reflector antennas for satellite communication ground stations, satellite and radar applications. Tony moved to STL in Harlow, Essex where he worked on early digital beamformer arrays and beamforming. Moving to the University of Surrey (1980) he gained his PhD in 1983 on microstrip array antennas.

He then joined Racal Antennas Ltd as Chief Engineer. During this time he started working in radio astronomy instrumentation in addition to communications of various types. He was a representative to the ARINC 741 standards committee on airborne satellite communications. Leaving Racal in 1987 he co-founded Easat Antennas Ltd, later becoming Easat Radar Systems, and now a leading supplier of ground based radar using both shaped reflector and array based solutions. Tony accepted a Chair position at the University of Manchester (UMIST) in 2003, becoming involved in the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope in 2009. He retired from Manchester in 2018 becoming Professor Emeritus. He later joined Queen Mary, University of London on a part time basis in 2019. He maintains a long term research collaboration with the University of Cambridge on radio astronomy telescopes currently principally focused on wide band phased arrays. He remains part time CTO in Easat Radar Systems Ltd.