The concept of super-resolution refers to various methods for improving the angular resolution of an optical imaging system beyond the classical diffraction limit. In optical microscopy, several techniques have been developed with the aim of narrowing the central lobe of the illumination Point Spread Function (PSF). In Astronomy a few methods have been proposed to achieve reflector telescopes and antennas with resolution significantly better than the diffraction limit but, to our best knowledge, no working system is in operation. A possible practical approach consists of using the so-called "Toraldo Pupils" (TPs) or variable transmittance filters. These pupils were introduced by G. Toraldo di Francia in 1952,1 and consist of a series of discrete, concentric circular coronae providing specific optical transparency and dephasing in order to engineer the required PSF. The first successful laboratory test of TPs in the microwaves was achieved in 2003,2 and in the present work we build upon these initial measurements to perform electromagnetic (EM) numerical simulations of TPs, using a commercial full-wave software tool. These simulations were used to study various EM effects that can mask and/or affect the performance of the pupils and to analyze the near-field as well as the far-field response. Our EM analysis confirms that at 20 GHz the width of the central lobe in the far-field generated by a TP significantly decreases compared to a clear circular aperture with the same diameter.
Low frequency aperture array technology requires advanced ad-hoc tools for performing antenna and array pattern characterization and instrumental calibration. A micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) mounting a radio-frequency transmitting system developed in Italy has demonstrated to satisfy the challenging characteristics of these tasks. Therefore, a measurement campaign by means of this UAV system has been planned to one Dutch station of the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) with the main goal to improve the LOFAR antenna and array models. In preparation for this campaign, some initial tests applying the UAV system to one low-frequency antenna of LOFAR were performed in Italy. This contribution describes this measurement session and shows that the measured antenna gain patterns at different frequencies between 40 and 70 MHz agree very well with the electromagnetic models.
In this article, we present the design and performances of the radio receiver system installed at the Sardinia Radio
Telescope (SRT). The three radio receivers planned for the first light of the Sardinian Telescope have been installed in
three of the four possible focus positions. A dual linear polarization coaxial receiver that covers two frequency bands,
the P-band (305-410 MHz) and the L-band (1.3-1.8 GHz) is installed at the primary focus. A mono-feed that covers the
High C-band (5.7-7.7 GHz) is installed at the beam waveguide foci. A multi-beam (seven beams) K-band receiver (18-
26.5 GHz) is installed at the Gregorian focus. Finally, we give an overview about the radio receivers, which under test
and under construction and which are needed for expanding the telescope observing capabilities.
We present a project aimed at realizing an Italian aperture array demonstrator constituted by prototypical Vivaldi antennas designed to operate at radio frequencies below 500 MHz. We focus on an array composed of a core plus a few satellite phased-array stations to be installed at the Sardinia Radio Telescope (SRT) site. The antenna elements are mobile and thus it will be possible to investigate the performance in terms of both uv-coverage and synthesized resolution resulting from different configurations of the array.
Microwave holography is a well-established technique for mapping surface errors of large reflector antennas, particularly those designed to operate at high frequencies.
We present here a holography system based on the interferometric method for mapping the primary reflector surface of the Sardinia Radio Telescope (SRT). SRT is a new 64-m-diameter antenna located in Sardinia, Italy, equipped with an
active surface and designed to operate up to 115 GHz.
The system consists mainly of two radio frequency low-noise coherent channels, designed to receive Ku-band digital TV signals from geostationary satellites. Two commercial prime focus low-noise block converters are installed on the radio telescope under test and on a small reference antenna, respectively. Then the signals are amplified, filtered and downconverted to baseband. An innovative digital back-end based on FPGA technology has been implemented to digitize two 5 MHz-band signals and calculate their cross-correlation in real-time. This is carried out by using a 16-bit resolution ADCs and a FPGA reaching very large amplitude dynamic range and reducing post-processing time. The final
holography data analysis is performed by CLIC data reduction software developed within the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM, Grenoble, France).
The system was successfully tested during several holography measurement campaigns, recently performed at the
Medicina 32-m radio telescope. Two 65-by-65 maps, using an on-the-fly raster scan with on-source phase calibration,
were performed pointing the radio telescope at 38 degrees elevation towards EUTELSAT 7A satellite. The high SNR
(greater than 60 dB) and the good phase stability led to get an accuracy on the surface error maps better than 150 μm
The Sardinia Radio Telescope (SRT) is a 64 meters (diameter) single dish radioantenna which is in the building phase in
Italy. One of the most challenging characteristics of SRT is its capability to observe up to a frequency of 100 GHz thanks
to its main reflector active surface. The active surface is composed by 1008 panels and 1116 mechanical actuators which
may modify the segmented shape of the main reflector making possible the correction for wavefront distortions induced
by the gravitational and thermal deformations.
In order to observe at a frequency of 100 GHz the surface shape must be accurate below of a value of 150 μm r.m.s..
This value may be reached during the initial alignement phase using the microwave holography but it cannot be
maintained during the scientific operations because of the (dynamical) deformations. In order to permit the observations
at any time, a system able to measure the surface deformations with the necessary accuracy and a time-response of few
minutes (the time-scale of the deformations) must be operative.
We propose here three simple and robust methods to measure the relative deformations of the segmented panels with
respect to an initial aligned surface (reference surface). The ultimate choice on which one of the three systems will
operate on SRT will be taken after final testing on all of them. Prototypes of each system have been realized and two of
them have been also successfully tested on the active optics radiotelescope of Noto (Italy). The test on the third system
will be done in the next few months.
We present the design of the passive feed system of the dual-band receiver for the prime focus of the Sardinia Radio
Telescope (SRT), a new 64 m diameter radio telescope which is being built in Sardinia, Italy. The feed system operates
simultaneously in P-band (305-410 MHz) and L-band (1300-1800 MHz). The room temperature illuminators are
arranged in coaxial configuration with an inner circular waveguide for L-band (diameter of 19 cm) and an outer coaxial
waveguide for P-band (diameter of 65 cm). Choke flanges are used outside the coaxial section to improve the crosspolarization
performance and the back scattering of the P-band feed. The geometry was optimized for compactness and
high antenna efficiency in both bands using commercial electromagnetic simulators. Four probes arranged in
symmetrical configuration are used in both the P and the L-band feeds to extract dual-linearly polarized signals and to
combine them, through phased-matched coaxial cables, into 180 deg hybrid couplers. A vacuum vessel encloses the two
P-band hybrids and the two L-band hybrids which are cooled, respectively at 15 K and 77 K. For the P-Band, four low
loss coaxial feedthroughs are used to cross the vacuum vessel, while for the L-Band a very low loss large window is
employed. The P-band hybrids are based on a microstrip rat-race design with fractal geometry. The L-band hybrids are
based on an innovative double-ridged waveguide design that also integrates a band-pass filter for Radio Frequency
Interference (RFI) mitigation.
Iqueye is a single photon counting very high speed photometer built for the ESO 3.5m New Technology Telescope
(NTT) in La Silla (Chile) as prototype of a 'quantum' photometer for the 42m European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT).
The optics of Iqueye splits the telescope pupil into four portions, each feeding a Single Photon Avalanche Diode
(SPAD) operated in Geiger mode. The SPADs sensitive area has a diameter of 100 μm, with a quantum efficiency better
than 55% at 500 nm, and a dark count less than 50 Hz. The quenching circuit and temperature control are integrated in
each module. A time-to-digital converter (TDC) board, controlled by a rubidium oscillator plus a GPS receiver, time tags
the pulses from the 4 channels. The individual times are stored in a 2 TeraByte memory. Iqueye can run continuously for
hours, handling count rates up to 8 MHz, with a final absolute accuracy of each time tag better that 0.5 ns. A first very
successful run was performed in Jan 2009; both very faint and very bright stars were observed, demonstrating the high
photometric quality of the instrument. The first run allowed also to identify some opto-mechanical improvements, which
have been implemented for a second run performed in Dec 2009. The present paper will describe the first version, the
improvements implemented in the second one, and some of the obtained astronomical results.
Almost all astronomical instruments detect and analyze the first order spatial and/or temporal coherence properties
of the photon stream coming from celestial sources. Additional information might be hidden in the second
and higher order coherence terms, as shown long ago by Hanbury-Brown and Twiss with the Narrabri Intensity
Interferometer. The future Extremely Large Telescopes and in particular the 42 m telescope of the European
Southern Observatory (ESO) could provide the high photon flux needed to extract this additional information.
To put these expectations (which we had already developed at the conceptual level in the QuantEYE study for the
100 m OverWhelmingly Large Telescope to experimental test in the real astronomical environment, we realized
a small prototype (Aqueye) for the Asiago 182 cm telescope. This instrument is the fastest photon counting
photometer ever built. It has 4 parallel channels operating simultaneously, feeding 4 Single Photon-Avalanche
Diodes (SPADs), with the ability to push the time tagging capabilities below the nano-second region for hours
of continuous operation. Aqueye has been extensively used to acquire photons from a variety of variable stars,
in particular from the pulsar in the Crab Nebula. Following this successful realization, a larger version, named
Iqueye, has been built for the 3.5 m New Technology Telescope (NTT) of ESO. Iqueye follows the same optical
solution of dividing the telescope pupil in 4 sub-pupils, imaged on new generation SPADs having useful diameters
of 100 micrometers, time jitter less than 50 picoseconds and dark-count noise less than 50 counts/second. The
spectral efficiency of the system peaks in the visible region of the spectrum. Iqueye operated very successfully at
the NTT in January 2009. The present paper describes the main features of the two photometers and present
some of the astronomical results already obtained.
We present the status of the Sardinia Radio Telescope (SRT) project, a new general purpose, fully steerable 64 m
diameter parabolic radiotelescope capable to operate with high efficiency in the 0.3-116 GHz frequency range. The
instrument is the result of a scientific and technical collaboration among three Structures of the Italian National Institute
for Astrophysics (INAF): the Institute of Radio Astronomy of Bologna, the Cagliari Astronomy Observatory (in
Sardinia,) and the Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory in Florence. Funding agencies are the Italian Ministry of Education
and Scientific Research, the Sardinia Regional Government, and the Italian Space Agency (ASI,) that has recently
rejoined the project. The telescope site is about 35 km North of Cagliari.
The radio telescope has a shaped Gregorian optical configuration with a 7.9 m diameter secondary mirror and
supplementary Beam-WaveGuide (BWG) mirrors. With four possible focal positions (primary, Gregorian, and two
BWGs), SRT will be able to allocate up to 20 remotely controllable receivers. One of the most advanced technical
features of the SRT is the active surface: the primary mirror will be composed by 1008 panels supported by electromechanical
actuators digitally controlled to compensate for gravitational deformations. With the completion of the
foundation on spring 2006 the SRT project entered its final construction phase. This paper reports on the latest advances
on the SRT project.
This contribution gives a description of the Sardinia Radio Telescope (SRT), a new general purpose, fully steerable antenna proposed by the Institute of Radio Astronomy (IRA) of the National Institute for Astrophysics. The radio telescope is under construction near Cagliari (Sardinia) and it will join the two existing antennas of Medicina (Bologna) and Noto (Siracusa) both operated by the IRA. With its large antenna size (64m diameter) and its active surface, SRT, capable of operations up to about 100GHz, will contribute significantly to VLBI networks and will represent a powerful single-dish radio telescope for many science fields. The radio telescope
has a Gregorian optical configuration with a supplementary beam-waveguide (BWG), which provides additional focal points. The Gregorian surfaces are shaped to minimize the spill-over and the standing wave between secondary mirror and feed. After the start of the contract for the radio telescope structural and mechanical fabrication in 2003, in the present year the foundation construction will be completed. The schedule foresees the radio telescope inauguration in late 2006.