Case study from: Co-hosting the SKA telescope
A new Australian company is commercialising multi-beam technology.
In a breakthrough development, Quasar Satellite Technologies will use phased array technology to communicate with hundreds of satellites at once. CSIRO developed the technology for its ASKAP radio telescope, a precursor to the SKA.
Around 3,000 satellites already orbit Earth, with tens of thousands more scheduled to launch over the next decade. Each satellite needs to communicate with a home base on Earth.
But current ground stations can usually only track one satellite at a time. This causes a significant bottleneck for industries that use data from space, including:
- natural disaster monitoring.
Quasar will allow commercial and government entities to connect with satellites from anywhere in the world, in real time. This is possible through the multiple antenna beams of its phased array – a feature developed to give ASKAP its unprecedented field of view.
"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," said Dr Ilana Feain, a CSIRO commercialisation specialist and a founding director of Quasar.
The receiver technology has been adapted to send signals as well. I It will help meet the booming demand for satellite ground stations. The satellite ground communications market is worth approximately $175 billion.
Quasar will sell ground-station functionality ‘as a service’. This is similar to the Software as a Service (SaaS) model used in cloud computing.
Quasar launched in May 2021. It is backed by $12 million in funding, technology and industry expertise from:
- other government bodies
- private companies.
Quasar continues a proud history of Australian innovation. CSIRO scientists invented fast WiFi, another technology developed for radio astronomy that had applications beyond research. These examples highlight the potential to commercialise SKA technologies for industry and societal benefits.
Read about Australia’s involvement in the SKA project