[ASC-media] CSIRO: Networks create "instant world telescope"

Rebecca.Eveleigh at csiro.au Rebecca.Eveleigh at csiro.au
Wed Sep 5 02:48:57 CEST 2007

5 September 2007
Ref 07/171

Networks create "instant world telescope"

For the first time, a CSIRO radio telescope has been linked to others in
China and Europe in real-time, demonstrating the power of high-speed
global networks and effectively creating a telescope almost as big as
the Earth.

Last week a CSIRO telescope near Coonabarabran NSW was used
simultaneously with one near Shanghai, China, and five in Europe to
observe a distant galaxy called 3C273. 

"This is the first time we've been able to instantaneously connect
telescopes half a world apart," Dr Tasso Tzioumis, VLBI operations and
development manager at CSIRO's Australia Telescope National Facility
"It's a fantastic technical achievement, and a tribute to the ability of
the network providers to work together."

Data from the telescopes was streamed around the world at a rate of 256
Mb per second - about ten times faster than the fastest broadband speeds
available to Australian households - to a research centre in Europe,
where it was processed with a special-purpose digital processor.

The results were then transmitted to Xi'an, China, where they were
watched live by experts in advanced networking at the 24th APAN
(Asia-Pacific Advanced Network) Meeting.

>From Australia to Europe, the CSIRO data travelled on a dedicated 1 Gb
per second link set up by the Australian, Canadian and Dutch national
research and education networks, AARNet, CANARIE and SURFnet
Within Australia, the experiment used the 1 Gb per second networks that
now connect CSIRO's NSW observatories to Sydney and beyond. The links,
installed in 2006, were funded by CSIRO and provided by AARNet (the
Australian Academic Research Network). 

The telescope-linking technique, VLBI (very long baseline
interferometry) used to take weeks or months. 

"We used to record data on tapes or disks at each telescope, along with
time signals from atomic clocks. The tapes or disks would then be
shipped to a central processing facility to be combined," Dr Tzioumis

"The more widely separated the telescopes, the more finely detailed the
observations can be. The diameter of the Earth is 12 750 km and the two
most widely separated telescopes in our experiment were 12 304 km apart,
in a straight line," Dr Tzioumis said.

The institutions that took part in the experiment are all collaborators
in the EXPReS project (Express Production Real-time e-VLBI Service),
which is coordinated by the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE) in
The Netherlands. 
Images available at:
Podcast available at: www.csiro.au/multimedia/WorldTelescopePodcast.html

Further Information:
Dr Tasso Tzioumis
Australia Telescope National Facility	02 9372 4350; 0409 447 902
tasso.tzioumis at csiro.au

Dr Chris Hancock, CEO 
AARNet Pty Ltd	02 6222 3579; 0412 600 144
Media Assistance:
Helen Sim
Australia Telescope National Facility	02 9372 4251; 0419 635 905
helen.sim at csiro.au 

Beck Eveleigh
Media Assistant
CSIRO Media Liaison
6276 6451
0409 395 010

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