Building signal-processing systems

We design and build high-speed signal-processing systems to turn 'space whispers' into information.

Once detected by receivers, radio signals are transformed by a telescope's signal-processing system into data that astronomers can use. Our team designs and builds high-speed signal-processing systems, both digital and analogue, to achieve specific science goals.

Translating signals into data

Radio signals from cosmic objects have very wide bandwidth and are generally 'noise-like' rather than repetitive. This makes them very different from the telecommunications signals that most off-the-shelf signal-processing systems are designed to handle, so radio telescopes need purpose-built signal processors.

Our areas of signal-processing expertise include:

  • construction of high-speed wideband sampling circuits and digital signal processors, especially for spectrometry
  • computer control of signal processors, particularly correlators
  • production of highly stable frequency-reference systems for interferometers
  • data transfer, especially analogue transfer of very-wide-band signals over fibre optics.

Advancing signal processing

We have a strong track record in creating innovative signal-processing systems for our own and other leading international telescopes, including:

  • a recent major upgrade to the signal-processing system of our own Australia Telescope Compact Array made the telescope four times more sensitive to faint radio signals, greatly enhancing its capability for scientific discovery
  • digital data acquisition systems for NASA’s Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in Australia
  • correlators for the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory in South Africa, and for the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory in the UK, and
  • a spectrometer for the Onsala Space Observatory in Sweden, now used on the APEX telescope in Chile.

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