Central Processing Facilities

The SKAO’s Central Processing Facilities or CPFs will be located on-site with the telescopes. In Australia, a dedicated facility is being built at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO), while in South Africa, the existing Karoo Array Processing Building (KAPB) housing MeerKAT infrastructure will be used.

Both buildings are shielded to avoid radio interference generated inside by electronics from leaking out and interfering with observations.

Designed by SKA Infrastructure partner Aurecon, the SKA-Low CPF is a shielded building located on site containing a wide range of processing and support equipment for the SKA-Low telescope:

  • Tile Processing Modules (TPMs). Each TPM converts and digitises the signals from 16 antennas. As such, there are more than 8,000 TPMs in total! They are located either in the CPF or in remote processing facilities along the Low telescope’s spiral arms for the furthest antenna stations. Each TPM is composed of two parts:
    • an analog board that converts the signal back to electrical and cleans it; and
    • a digital board that digitises the signal from the antennas in a station then combines them to point to one or multiple directions of the sky.
  • The SKA-Low observatory clock system is composed of three ultra-stable clocks called hydrogen masers to time signal accurately. The times they produce are continuously compared with one another to identify failures and are also compared via satellite with UTC time kept by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures!
  • The Telescope Manager (TM) is a system control and monitoring sub-system. It orchestrates the hardware and software systems to control observations and facilitates maintenance by logging 'health' parameters. It provides support to perform diagnostics and delivers relevant data to operators, maintainers, engineers and science users.
  • Finally, power for the CPF and central stations is provided by a photovoltaic plant and energy storage system backed up by diesel generators, generating renewable energy a majority of the time to power the antennas and all site infrastructure.
Last modified on 30 June 2022