Medicina Radio Astronomical Station

IRA - Institute of Radio Astronomy

INAF - National Institute for Astrophysics

Technology Developments for Radio Telescopes

The Medicina radio astronomical station staff has gained deep know-how in many topics related to the construction of radio telescopes. Inside the station labs many technological solutions were designed, developed and tested. Examples of the achieved skills are provided by the making of: the active surface system for Noto and SRT, a new vertex room concept for "frequency agility" implemented in Medicina and Noto and an innovative rail solution developed for all the Italian dish antennas.

Due to their experience, engineers and technicians working in Medicina have been leading different phases of the SRT (Sardinia Radio Telescope) design and construction. They were involved in:

- Supervision on Mechanic construction

- Active Surface Actuators

- Servomechanism for antenna movement

- Minor servos

- Cabling of control electronic systems

- Software for antenna control and observation management

- Riceivers

- Data Acquisition Systems (backends in continuum)

The assembly and commissioning of the receivers at present installed on the SRT (C band, K band and L/P band) took place in Medicina, both inside the labs and through the use of the 32-m dish as a test-bed.

SKA (Square Kilometre Array) is an international project involving many countries: Italy, The Netherlands, Great Britain, Sweden, China, Australia, Canada and South Africa. Its goal is the production of a powerful new generation radio telescope: SKA will be up to one hundred times more sensitive than of any of the existing radio telescopes. This instrument will be based on a huge number of substations, deployed in 3,000-kilometer wide areas located in Australia and South Africa. It will allow a next generation of scientists to observe the radio sky with unprecedented performance.

INAF-IRA is Work Package Leader for the receiving system – the one in charge of amplifying and filtering the signals between the LNA (Low Noise Amplifier) output and the ADC (Analog to Digital Converter) input. The Medicina station is studying all the problems related to the "antenna array implementation" using a prototype called MAD (Medicina Array Demonstrator). Experts are paying particular attention to the array calibration methodologies, testing new back-ends together with the software and algorithms in use.