Elemaster awarded EU45M contract to help in delivering global SKA telescope

December 13, 2023 – The Elemaster Group, ODM-EMS European leader in the design and supply of electronic products, has been awarded by the international SKA Observatory (SKAO) a EUR 45 million contract to design and build a sophisticated digital processing system that will power one of the world’s largest and most capable radio telescopes.

Combining their strengths, Elemaster and the SKAO will design and build the tools to enable detection of the vanishingly faint radio waves travelling from the farthest reaches of the Universe.

Elemaster will build the signal processing subsystem (SPS) for the SKAO’s low-frequency telescope, called SKA-Low, that is being constructed in Australia – its counterpart, called SKA-Mid, is being built in South Africa. SKA-Low is sometimes called a ‘software’ telescope because, while its antennas have no moving parts, astronomers can “point” in different directions through advanced data processing techniques. It will need to capture and process enormous amounts of data, almost unprecedented in astronomy. Comprising an antenna array with 131,072 individual antennas and a collecting area of more than 400,000 square metres, SKA-Low will survey the whole sky 135 times faster than existing radio telescopes, at a higher resolution and with more sensitivity.

The greatest computing burden for the telescope will be making sense of the billions of ‘streams’ of incoming data, generated by the tens of thousands of antennas across 65,000 radio frequencies simultaneously.

Elemaster and their collaborators in charge of building the sub-systems will design and deliver the highly specialized SPS hardware for SKA-Low. More specifically, they will build digital, software-enabled circuitry to digitize, correlate, combine and help interpret radio light before it is transported hundreds of kilometres to a second supercomputer for further processing.

Starting from the baseline designs made by INAF (National Institute for Astrophysics), Elemaster started the industrialization phase.

In addition to Elemaster, collaborators across several other countries will contribute to the work. Elemaster will also cooperate for this project with the partners Sanitas EG SRL, EES SPA and CR&C SRL.

SKA-Low’s signal processing system has extremely demanding requirements because of the huge number of antennas connected over distances of up to 74km. As well as a very high performance processing centre, the system’s long-range connections need the capacity to accommodate an enormous volume of data captured by the antennas. It’s a unique challenge and we’re looking forward to working with Elemaster and our other partners to realise this technology, which is so critical to enabling science with SKA-Low,” said Jacque Stoddart, SKA-Low Digitisation Project Manager.

The SKA telescopes are now in the construction phase, after almost 30 years of planning, design and engineering. They will answer some of the most fundamental questions in physics and astronomy, transforming our understanding of the Universe and allowing us to see back to the first stars and galaxies being born – the Cosmic Dawn.

Elemaster is proud to have been selected by SKAO, among multiple competitors, in order to start this long-term partnership for an amazing high-tech project that will allow a new knowledge of the Universe. I take the chance to thank all people in both organizations who have strongly worked to make that happen”, said Valentina Cogliati, President and CEO of Elemaster Group.

Gualtiero Magni, Elemaster Group CTO added: “We are excited to start this partnership, making available our more than 45 years of experience into the ODM and EMS sector for a project that is unique in the world ”.

About Elemaster S.p.A.

Elemaster S.p.A., thanks to its distinctive know-how of the processes, today supports its customers overseeing the entire life cycle of an electronic product: Original Design Manufacturing supported by its International Design Centers (R&D division, made up of over 60 engineers all over the world), PCB manufacturing, wiring production, Electronic Manufacturing Services, mechatronic services including turnkey solutions, logistics and after sales service. Elemaster stands on the market as a One Stop Shop for its Customers, who are major global players in high-tech sectors, such as Railways, Avionics, AeroSpace, Medical, Automotive, Industrial and Energy, not to mention new market niches such as MEMS. Elemaster was founded in 1978, and since then has experienced exponential growth of revenues and has relentlessly built its global presence in Europe, America, Africa and Asia. Today Elemaster has plants in Italy, Romania, Germany, Belgium, Tunisia, India, China and the United States.

Learn more at www.elemaster.com/en

About the SKAO

The SKAO, formally known as the SKA Observatory, is an intergovernmental organisation composed of member states from five continents and headquartered in the UK. Its mission is to build and operate cutting-edge radio telescopes to transform our understanding of the universe, and deliver benefits to society through global collaboration and innovation.

Its two telescopes, each composed of hundreds of dishes and thousands of antennas, will be constructed in South Africa and Australia and be the two most advanced radio telescopes on Earth. A later expansion is envisioned in both countries and other African partner countries.

Together with other state-of-the-art research facilities, the SKAO’s telescopes will explore the unknown frontiers of science and deepen our understanding of key processes, including the formation and evolution of galaxies, fundamental physics in extreme environments and the origins of life. Through the development of innovative technologies and its contribution to addressing societal challenges, the SKAO will play its part to address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and deliver significant benefits across its membership and beyond.

The SKAO recognises and acknowledges the Indigenous peoples and cultures that have traditionally lived on the lands on which the SKAO facilities are located. The SKAO acknowledges the Wajarri Yamaji as the Traditional Owners and native title holders of Inyarrimanha Ilgari Bundara, the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory.

Learn more at https://www.skao.int/


Photo caption:


SKA Observatory’s international Head Quarter

Jodrell Bank, UK

Team SKAO led by Jacque Stoddart, LOW Digitisation Project Manager

Elemaster representatives:

Valentina Cogliati, President & CEO

Marco Ferrari, Eletech General Manager

Gualtiero Magni, Elemaster Group Chief Project & Business Management Officer

Matteo Dossi, Elemaster Group Chief Supply Chain & Procurement Officer

Sergio Sala, Elemaster Group Quality & Process Manager

Matteo Legovic, Key Account


For more information, read the full article in the Sole 24 Ore here.

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