Tech that talks to satellites delivers life-saving data
Phased array technology, developed by CSIRO’s ASKAP radio telescope in Western Australia, allows for real-time communication with hundreds of satellites simultaneously – a world first.
By avoiding limitations of the "one ground-station per satellite" model, it broadens access to important space data that can assist in areas such as farming, weather forecasting and disaster monitoring.
It’s made possible by the multiple antenna beams of ASKAP’s phased array, which were originally developed to give the telescope its unprecedented field of view. The antennas can be arranged in a way that alters the shape and direction of radio signals without having to physically move the array itself.
The technology is being carried forward by Australian company Quasar Satellite Technologies, who will provide the resulting space data as a service to governments and commercial entities, allowing them to connect with multiple satellites from anywhere in the world.
Around 3,000 satellites currently orbit Earth, with tens of thousands more scheduled to be launched over the next decade.
Quasar Satellite Technologies will provide ground-station functionality "as a service", similar to the way Software as a Service (SaaS) model is used in cloud computing.
Launched in May 2021, Quasar is backed by AU $12M in funding, technology and industry expertise from CSIRO as well as other government bodies and private companies.
It’s the latest in a proud history of Australian innovation. CSIRO scientists also developed fast WiFi – another commercialised technology originally developed for radio astronomy.
These examples demonstrate how the SKAO’s cutting-edge telescopes not only transform our understanding of the Universe but lead to new technologies benefiting humanity.
CSIRO's phased array technology revolutionised radio astronomy by enabling ASKAP to see enormous portions of the sky at once – about 30 times the area that conventional telescopes could see