Onsala Space Observatory is engaged in several projects to develop radio astronomical facilties for the future.
ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is a large international project to build and operated an array of 66 antennas for submillimetre wavelengths, most of them with 12 m diameter, at 5000 m altitude in the Atacama desert in the Chilean Andes. Construction started in 2003. ALMA was inaugurated in March 2013.
(More ALMA web sites can be found on the Links page.)
e-VLBI and NEXPReS
Onsala Space Observatory is heavily involved in the development of real-time e-VLBI ("electronic" VLBI). Instead of recording data at each telescope on magnetic tapes and transport them to a processing centre, the traditional VLBI method, real-time e-VLBI make us of optical fibres to send data to the correlator. The first e-VLBI experiment took place in January 2004, between Onsala Space Observatory and radio telescopes in Westerbork, Holland, and Cambridge, England. The first transatlantic e-VLBI experiment followed in March 2004, between Onsala and Westford, Massachusetts.
Herschel is an ESA (European Space Agency) project which built and launched a space telescope for far-infrared and submillimetre wavelengths. The Herschel Space Observatory has a 3.5 m diameter mirror, and collects radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the Universe. The spacecraft was successfully launched 14 May 2009. The last observations were made in April 2013 when the spacecraft ran out of liquid helium coolant required to maintain the operational temperatures for the instruments' detectors.
LOFAR (Low Frequency Array) is a project to design and build a large array consisting of thousands of simple antennas for frequencies below 250 MHz. Instead of mechanically pointing the antennas to different radio sources in the sky, the signals from the antennas are sent to a central digital processor and combined in software to emulate a more conventional antenna. The project is led by ASTRON in the Netherlands. LOFAR was inaugurated on 12 June 2010.
Onsala Space Observatory is one of 27 partners in RadioNet3 (Advanced Radio Astronomy in Europe). RadioNet3 covers the period 2012 – 2015 and is an EU Integrated-Infrastructure-Initiative-funded network of all the major radio astronomical observatories in Europe (and some beyond). Radionet3 follows on from a number of successful similar activities over the years. Its aim is to support the use of the radio astronomical facilities as well as to support R&D on new radio astronomical instrumentation and methods. From this activity OSO gets TransNational Access (TNA) funding for its operation of APEX and its contribution to astronomical VLBI. It also takes part in two Joint Research Activities: DIVA (Developments in VLBI Astronomy) and AETHER (Advanced European TeraHertz Heterodyne Receivers). Finally, OSO participates in several networking activities within RadioNet3.
An important part of Onsala Space Observatory's activities is the development of new receivers. The work is performed by the Group for Advanced Receiver Development (GARD), shared between the Observatory and Department of Earth and Space Science at Chalmers.
The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is an international project to build an interferometric array of individual antenna stations, synthesizing an aperture with diameter of up to several 1000 kilometers and with a total collecting area of one square kilometer. Such a facility will provide a two orders of magnitude increase in sensitivity over existing facilities at metre to centimetre wavelengths, and will enable astronomers to see the formation of the early Universe, including the emergence of the first stars, galaxies and other structures.
Last modified: February 27, 2014
Responsible for this page: Magnus Thomasson