ITASEL

Italian Search for Extraterrestrial Life

A joint project INAF-IFSI, INAF-IRA, ASI

Technology

In the framework of the ITASEL project a completely new and challenging fast spectrometer named SPECTRA-2 was developed.

The spectrometer is based on FPGA technolgy and allows realtime elaboration of two simultaneous analog inputs, performing fine channelization using polyphase filterbanks to isolate with a high rejection the different subbands.

SPECTRA-2 roach board
SPECTRA-2 is developed on top of a ROACH board from the CASPER consortium. This kind of hardware enables a good modularity and ease of programming, united with high oerformance I/O through standard ten gigabit ethernet.

Each board can have up to four AD converters working at 1 GS/s and 8 bit each, thus processing in realtime four different bands of 500MHz each. Data are then managed by the FPGA hardware which ensures high performances, flexibility and low power consumption, also easing the development process leading to short deploy times of new instruments.

The board is easily controlled via standard 10/100 ethernet interface implenting a simple communication protocol which permits an easy integration of the instrument in different antenna control systems.

Comparative spectra of Epsilon Eridani: on the top the data that was acquired with SPECTRA-2 backend shows a detection with a SNR of more than 4; on the bottom, the same target was simultaneoulsy acquired with the old spectrometer MSPEC0. Both spectra were obtained by mean of a similar instrumental and antenna setup. Please note that MSPEC0 was not able to detect any notable feature. instead there are some similarieties on the noise pattern.