TOPIC joins development of the CSP for SKA-Low telescope

woensdag 24 augustus 2022

The SKA telescope project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area. Australia will host the SKA low-frequency telescope, with South Africa home to the SKA mid-frequency telescope.

The scale of the SKA telescope arrays represent a huge leap forward in both engineering and research & development towards building and delivering a unique instrument, with its construction now well under way. As one of the largest scientific endeavors in history, the SKA pulls together a wealth of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers to bring the project to fruition.

In a significant achievement, TOPIC was awarded the first Digital construction contract for the integration and delivery of SKA-Low’s Central Signal Processor (CSP LOW). As central processing ‘brain’ of the SKA low-frequency telescope, the CSP-Low will convert digitized astronomical signals detected by the SKA-Low receivers into data that can be used to generate detailed images and has specialized pulsar capabilities. It is a highly complex combination of hardware, firmware, and software working together in real time.

The development of the CSP-Low will be done in a consortium team, led by TOPIC, called the “TOPIC Team”. The team currently consists out of seven people, growing to a peak of ten professionals, mainly from TOPIC, with key domain and project support from Astron over the coming five years. It will be a multi-disciplinary team covering Program Management, Firmware and Software Engineering, Domain and Networking Specialists and dedicated Test and Integration Engineers. The role of TOPIC in the lead is to integrate and prepare the CSP LOW system baselines ready for commissioning on site in Australia.

For this project unique infrastructure will be established at the TOPIC office in Best, that will be the hub for integration activities on the Central Signal Processor. The first real integration tests will commence in the coming year once the specialized hardware has arrived. Multinational teams will be visiting TOPIC to integrate and test their various products (Correlator and Beamformer, Monitoring and Control, Pulsar Search, Pulsar Timing) that form core building blocks of the central signal processor.

In June the official kick-off meeting for the CSP-Low project took place at the SKA Observatory head office. See below a picture.

For more information on the SKA project and CPS see the following links:

CSP-Low team

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