WSRTThe Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT), owned and operated by ASTRON in The Netherlands, has 14 fully-steerable parabolic reflectors, distributed in an East-West configuration of 2700m length. It is equipped with a sensitive receiver package providing almost continuous coverage at decimeter and centimeter wavelenghts as well as frequency agility. Coupled to its flexible half-million channel correlator, and its modern pulsar and VLBI backends, the WSRT continues to be a uniquely capable facility in the world that is consistently oversubscribed and draws a wide international user base.

The WSRT will see its next major upgrade in 2015-16. An ambitious 21cm receiver system, "Apertif", consisting of phased-array feeds and digital beamformer, developed at ASTRON, will be installed at the focal plane of 12 (out of 14) of the WSRT dishes, replacing the current Multi-Frequency Frontends (MFFEs). The project is fully funded, has passed its critical design review, and has consistently been on schedule. With Apertif, many beams can be formed simultaneously at each dish (nominally 37), enlarging the instantaneous Field-of-View for the 12 WSRT dishes to 8 square degrees (an increase of a factor of 30 compared to the current WSRT) and 16384 spectral channels can be formed over a 300 MHz contiguous bandpass that can be tuned anywhere between 1000 and 1750 MHz. These new capabilities enable unique wide-field continuum, spectral line, and pulsar surveys in a wide 21cm band; the survey speed of the WSRT will increase by a factor 20.

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Dr. R. Vermeulen
e-mail: rvermeulen [at] astron [dot] nl
Oude Hoogeveensedijk 4
7991 PD Dwingeloo
The Netherlands



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