Radio receivers at ALMA
​Technology to create new insights into the cosmos. Receivers for the giant telescope ALMA.​​
​P. Carrillo, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)

Chalmers part of Europe’s new tech investment in the cosmic secrets of radio waves

​​Advances in telescope technology are revolutionising how interconnected radio antennas explore the invisible universe. The European Commission has granted 10 million euros to a new international project that develops new ways to capture, process and analyze the sky's radio signals. Chalmers has a key role in the project in which science infrastructures and industry will work together.

“Radio telescopes offer incredible opportunities to discover how our universe has evolved, and to understand the origins of stars, planets, and of life. They also provide access to objects like black holes and neutron stars, where even our understanding of the laws of nature are challenged. This is big, exciting science, which involves major technical challenges. That's what this project will tackle”, says John Conway, professor in radio astronomy at Chalmers and director of Onsala Space Observatory

The Radioblocks project is coordinated by the European consortium JIV-ERIC, of which Chalmers and Onsala Space Observatory have long been members. Together with industrial partners, European research infrastructures in radio astronomy will develop technical solutions that will enable new discoveries in astronomy and fundamental physics. The project starts on 1 March 2023.

Radioblocks will take a holistic view of how radio telescopes arrays capture, process, synthesise and analyse cosmic signals and will develop components, technologies and software, applicable to a wide range of instruments, to enable the next major discoveries in radio astronomy.

The project, aims to achieve a maximal boost for the major world-leading research infrastructures in radio astronomy by developing common components, for example efficiently exploit powerful new commercially available accelerator hardware (GPUs), new phased array receivers for large single-dish radio telescopes, as well as new software to simulate and process extremely large amounts of data.

Victor Belitsky leads GARD, the research group for advanced receiver technology at Onsala Space Observatory and Chalmers, a member of the project.

“We at GARD bring with us experience in building receivers for the world's leading radio telescope projects, such as ALMA and APEX. Now, together with European colleagues, we will be able to research and develop world-class receivers for terahertz signals, improving the performance of each individual part of the receiver and achieving performance limited by fundamental physics itself rather than technology”, he says.

"The project Radioblocks collects the experience and common interests of the radio astronomy community in Europe at large, including several other global parties and industry. For the first time, all will work together to develop the technologies that are necessary for the future evolution of their facilities. This is a paradigm shift, mostly facilitated by the European Commission's Horizon Europe programme", says Dr. Francisco Colomer, director of JIV-ERIC and coordinator of Radioblocks.

The four-year Radioblocks project - funded by the Horizon Europe Framework Programme -
involves 33 major European research infrastructures for radio astronomy, together with partners from industry and academia from nine EU countries, Japan, Republic of Korea, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The engagement with industry to co-develop advanced technologies will increase the partners’ technological levels and strengthen their market positions.

More about the project and the consortium

The European research infrastructures involved are the Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC (JIV-ERIC) and the European VLBI Network (EVN), the Multi Element Remotely Linked Interferometer Network (eMERLIN), the LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR/ILT, soon to become LOFAR ERIC), the Northern Extended Millimetre Array (NOEMA), the 100-metre Effelsberg Telescope, the Sardinia 64-m radio telescope, the Yebes 40-metre telescope, the IRAM 30-metre Telescope and also global facilities of European interest, such as the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO, an ESFRI landmark), the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA), the Global Millimetre VLBI Array (GMVA), and the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).

The Radioblocks Consortium is comprised by the Joint Institute for Very Long Baseline Interferometry as a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (JIV-ERIC, NL, Coordinator), Stichting Nederlandse Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Instituten (ASTRON, NL), European Southern Observatory (ESO, DE), Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Cientificas M.P. (CSIC, ES), Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. (FRAUNHOFER-IAF, DE), Stichting International LOFAR Telescope (ILT, NL), Institut de Radio Astronomie Millimetrique Societe Civile (IRAM, FR), Max-Planck-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e.V. (MPG, DE), Chalmers Tekniska Högskola AB (GARD, SE), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG, NL), Technische Universiteit Delft (TUD, NL), Universiteit Leiden (ULEI, NL), Ventspils Augstskola (VIRAC, LV), Centro Nacional de Información Geográfica (CNIG, ES), Universite de Bordeaux (UBX, FR), Universität zu Koln (UCO, DE), Syddansk Universitet (SDU DK), Sioux Technologies BV (SIOUX, NL), Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF, IT), Observatoire de Paris (OBSPARIS, FR), Lytid (LYTID, ES), TTI Norte, S.L. (TTI NORTE, ES), Stichting Radboud Universiteit (RADBOUD, NL), School of Management and Engineering Vaud HES-SO / University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HES-SO, CH), Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL, CH), Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI, KR), University of Pretoria (UP, SA), Beyond Gravity Schweiz AG (BGC, CH), the University of Manchester (UNIMAN, UK), the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford (UOXF, UK), United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI, UK) and the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO, UK).

The Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC (JIVE) has as its primary mission to operate and develop the EVN data processor, a powerful supercomputer that combines the signals from radio telescopes located across the planet. Founded in 1993, JIVE is since 2015 a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) with seven member countries: France, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain and Sweden; additional support is received from partner institutes in China, Germany and South Africa. JIVE is hosted at the offices of the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) in the Netherlands.

Contacts

Robert Cumming, astronomer and communications officer, Onsala Space Observatory, +46 31 772 5500, +46 70 49 33 114, robert.cumming@chalmers.se

Victor Belitsky, professor of radio and space science, Chalmers, leader for Group for Advanced Receiver Development (GARD)  at Onsala Space Observatory and Chalmers, +46 31-772 1893, victor.belitsky@chalmers.se

Images

A (top) - Technology to create new insights into the cosmos. Receivers for the giant telescope ALMA in Chile designed by the GARD research group at Chalmers are examples of the technology which will be further developed within the Radioblocks project.
Credit: P. Carrillo, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)
 
B - With investments in new technology, Europe's networks of radio telescopes van look forward to new discoveries together. Here the stars of the Big Dipper form a backdrop for the 20-m telescope at Onsala Space Observatory in its protective radome.
Credit: Chalmers/J. Bodell

C - Banner for Radioblocks. 
Credit: JIVE


Page manager Published: Thu 15 Dec 2022.