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Hargreaves J.E.,Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe JIVE
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering

UniBoard is a generic high-performance computing platform for radio astronomy, developed as a Joint Research Activity in the RadioNet FP7 Programme. The hardware comprises eight Altera Stratix IV Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) interconnected by a high speed transceiver mesh. Each FPGA is connected to two DDR3 memory modules and three external 10Gbps ports. In addition, a total of 128 low voltage differential input lines permit connection to external ADC cards. The DSP capability of the board exceeds 644E9 complex multiply-accumulate operations per second. The first production run of eight boards was distributed to partners in The Netherlands, France, Italy, UK, China and Korea in May 2011, with a further production runs completed in December 2011 and early 2012. The function of the board is determined by the firmware loaded into its FPGAs. Current applications include beamformers, correlators, digital receivers, RFI mitigation for pulsar astronomy, and pulsar gating and search machines The new UniBoard based correlator for the European VLBI network (EVN) uses an FX architecture with half the resources of the board devoted to station based processing: delay and phase correction and channelization, and half to the correlation function. A single UniBoard can process a 64MHz band from 32 stations, 2 polarizations, sampled at 8 bit. Adding more UniBoards can expand the total bandwidth of the correlator. The design is able to process both prerecorded and real time (eVLBI) data. © 2012 SPIE. Source

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-SyG | Phase: ERC-2013-SyG | Award Amount: 13.98M | Year: 2014

Gravity is successfully described by Einsteins theory of general relativity (GR), governing the structure of our entire universe. Yet it remains the least understood of all forces in nature, resisting unification with quantum physics. One of the most fundamental predictions of GR are black holes (BHs). Their defining feature is the event horizon, the surface that light cannot escape and where time and space exchange their nature. However, while there are many convincing BH candidates in the universe, there is no experimental proof for the existence of an event horizon yet. So, does GR really hold in its most extreme limit? Do BHs exist or are alternatives needed? Here we propose to build a Black Hole Camera that for the first time will take an actual picture of a BH and image the shadow of its event horizon. We will do this by providing the equipment and software needed to turn a network of existing mm-wave radio telescopes into a global interferometer. This virtual telescope, when supplemented with the new Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA), has the power to finally resolve the supermassive BH in the centre of our Milky Way the best-measured BH candidate we know of. In order to compare the image with the theoretical predictions we will need to perform numerical modelling and ray tracing in GR and alternative theories. In addition, we will need to determine accurately the two basic parameters of the BH: its mass and spin. This will become possible by precisely measuring orbits of stars with optical interferometry on ESOs VLTI. Moreover, our equipment at ALMA will allow for the first detection of pulsars around the BH. Already a single pulsar will independently determine the BHs mass to one part in a million and its spin to a few per cent. This unique combination will not only produce the first-ever image of a BH, but also turn our Galactic Centre into a fundamental-physics laboratory to measure the fabric of space and time with unprecedented precision.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: SPA.2010.2.1-03 | Award Amount: 2.50M | Year: 2011

This ESPACE project aims at strengthening the collaboration and at developing new knowledge, new technology, and products for the scientific community in the domains of the development of ephemerides and reference systems for natural satellites and spacecraft by conjugating expertise of main European research centres involved in space sciences and dynamics, ROB, TUB, JIVE, TUD, CNES, DLR and IMCCE. The main part of the activity is focused on the extraction and analysis of astrometric data from space measurements not yet applied to the dynamics and to combine them with ground-based astrometric data. The project will also advance the European expertise in ultra-precise tracking of planetary probes and other deep space science missions. By these means, we intend to provide new dynamical models for several natural satellites, a characterization of their rotation properties, and improve spacecraft orbit determination methods for space science. The project is organised in 11 work-packages: coordination (management), radio science, laser ranging, VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry), digitized data handling, astrometry, definition of coordination reference frames and improvement of planetary coordinate knowledge, methods for determination of spacecraft and satellites ephemerides, formation of databases, data access and distribution methods, educational and outreach activities. The project will concentrate at achieving maximum synergy between all the work packages above in order to deliver to the professional and at-large communities the best scientific products adequate to the present-day cutting-edge space science and technology.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2007-2.2-01 | Award Amount: 35.54M | Year: 2008

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be one of the largest scientific projects ever undertaken. It is a machine designed to answer some of the big questions of our time: what is Dark Energy? Was Einstein right about gravity? What is the nature of dark matter? Can we detect gravitational waves? When and how did the first stars and galaxies form? What was the origin of cosmic magnetism? How do Earth-like planets form? Is there life, intelligent or otherwise, elsewhere in the Universe? There are several issues that need to be addressed before construction of the SKA can begin: 1. What is the design for the SKA? 2. Where will the SKA be located? 3. What is the legal framework and governance structure under which SKA will operate? 4. What is the most cost-effective mechanism for the procurement of the various components of the SKA? 5. How will the SKA be funded? The purpose of this proposal is to address all of these points. We seek funding to integrate the R&D work from around the globe in order to develop the fully-costed design for Phase 1 of the SKA, and a deployment plan for the full instrument. With active collaboration between funding agencies and scientists, we will investigate all of the options for the policy-related questions. The principal deliverable will be an implementation plan that will form the basis of a funding proposal to governments to start the construction of the SKA.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRADEV-4-2014-2015 | Award Amount: 14.99M | Year: 2015

ASTERICS (Astronomy ESFRI & Research Infrastructure Cluster) aims to address the cross-cutting synergies and common challenges shared by the various Astronomy ESFRI facilities (SKA, CTA, KM3Net & E-ELT). It brings together for the first time, the astronomy, astrophysics and particle astrophysics communities, in addition to other related research infrastructures. The major objectives of ASTERICS are to support and accelerate the implementation of the ESFRI telescopes, to enhance their performance beyond the current state-of-the-art, and to see them interoperate as an integrated, multi-wavelength and multi-messenger facility. An important focal point is the management, processing and scientific exploitation of the huge datasets the ESFRI facilities will generate. ASTERICS will seek solutions to these problems outside of the traditional channels by directly engaging and collaborating with industry and specialised SMEs. The various ESFRI pathfinders and precursors will present the perfect proving ground for new methodologies and prototype systems. In addition, ASTERICS will enable astronomers from across the member states to have broad access to the reduced data products of the ESFRI telescopes via a seamless interface to the Virtual Observatory framework. This will massively increase the scientific impact of the telescopes, and greatly encourage use (and re-use) of the data in new and novel ways, typically not foreseen in the original proposals. By demonstrating cross-facility synchronicity, and by harmonising various policy aspects, ASTERICS will realise a distributed and interoperable approach that ushers in a new multi-messenger era for astronomy. Through an active dissemination programme, including direct engagement with all relevant stakeholders, and via the development of citizen scientist mass participation experiments, ASTERICS has the ambition to be a flagship for the scientific, industrial and societal impact ESFRI projects can deliver.

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