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Webinar on Next Generation Radio Astronomy with the Square Kilometre Array – A Signal Processing Perspective
March 27 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm MMT
Abstract: The Square Kilometre Array (www.skatelescope.org (http://www.skatelescope.org/)) project is an international collaboration to build the ‘World’s largest’ synthesis aperture telescope for radio frequencies. The name implies its ambitious goal to have approximately one square kilometre of collection area. The unprecedented sensitivity made possible by the huge collection area and the expected advancement of technology drive the science goals of the SKA that include probing into the formation and evolution of the first stars and galaxies after the Big Bang, the role of cosmic magnetism, the nature of gravity and the search of extra-terrestrial life (SETI). However, technological and financial realities have made the construction to be completed in multiple phases. In phase-1, it is expected to achieve approximately 10% of the collection area. In 2012, it was decided that the Murchison region of Western Australia to host the low-frequency (50-350 MHz) telescope and the Karoo region in South Africa to host the mid-frequency (0.35-15.3 GHz) telescope. Around the same time, 12 consortia were formed with the mandate to design and cost the key elements of the telescope. By the middle of 2020, most of these consortia had successfully completed their mandates. So far, six nations, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa and the United Kingdom have ratified the new intergovernmental organization of the SKA Observatory. The governing body had the first board meeting last month. Now, the project is in its early construction stage.
This presentation focuses on the signal processing aspects of the SKA Phase-1 telescopes. Although the new advancements in the technology in Digital Signal Processing (DSP), fiber optics and machine learning techniques are encouraging, the increase in Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) in the selected ‘radio-quite’ host sites poses new challenges for the design of the signal chain as well as the effectiveness of the telescopes.
Bio: Thushara K. Gunaratne was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In 2004, he received the B.Sc. Engineering degree in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, and the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Calgary, Canada, in 2007 and 2011, respectively. He is currently a Research Council Officer – Signal Processing at the Hertzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Center, National Research Council (NRC) Canada. He has been involved in the design and implementation of the signal chain for the Correlator Beamformer (CBF) of the SKA Phase-1 Mid Telescope. Previously, for a brief period of time, he was with the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia and was involved in the Aperture Array Verification System (AAVS) for the SKA Phase-1 Low Telescope.