AEON leads the systems engineering effort within the Signal and Data Transport (SADT) Consortium, a pivotal element of the SKA Telescope.
The SADT comprises hardware and software which is necessary for the transmission of the massive science data between the receivers, beamformers, correlators and HPCs. SADT is also responsible for the long-haul data transport across Africa and Australia.
Away from 'Big Data,' SADT is providing the design of the SKA Timescale, a Hydrogen Maser based Timescale which is inherently critical for an array of this scale, directly required for the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) functionality of the SKA Telescope.
"...SADT is the backbone of the SKA Telescope..."
The Consortium is responsible for the design of three data transport networks:
The Digital Data Backhaul (DDBH) which transports digitised radio frequency signals from the radio telescope receivers to the Central Signal Processor (CSP), an adjacent SADT network transports correlated data products from the CSP to the Science Data Processor (SDP) -this is termed the CSP-SDP Link.
Data rates exceed 80Tb/s for both DDBH and CSP-SDP Links!
The SKA Timescale forms part of the Synchronisation and Timing (SAT) sub-element that provides reference frequency and clock signals from a central Maser ensemble. This Timescale generates UTC-accurate reference signals which ensure coherent phase and accuracy for the SKA receivers, some of which are separated by several hundred kilometers.
The Timescale and the SAT sub-element design was qualified in 2016, and was shown to meet phase coherence requirements across SKA-scale distances, when subject to 50C temperature delts, with incredible accuracy and precision. A fully integrated qualification model of the signal distribution system was shown to be precise to ~1 picosecond. with the source maintaining UTC-referenced accuracy equivalent to 10 nanosecond of slip, for a period of 10 years.
As part of the data and timing networks, SADT has implemented a comprehensive Monitor and Control (M&C) system which provides historical and real-time information to Telescope operators, corresponding to the status and modes of the active equipment. At any given time SADT's software can report alarms and faults, and has the capability to deploy corrective commands autonomously. The health and well-being of the networks are pivotal to confirm the validity of the science data gathered; the M&C systems are fundamental in ensuring the Telescope can be operated and maintained for the intended availability (99.999%) over the SKA's 50 year lifespan.
You can find out more about the SKA here: SKA Telescope