INAF and Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria (UTFSM) of Valparaiso for the development of the control software of ASTRI in ACS

UTFSM room with guests. Massimo Turatto is the last to the right of the table

On October 25th, 2022, in Valparaiso (Chile), the kick-off meeting of the new agreement between INAF and the Federico Santa Maria Technical University (UTSFM) has taken place. The agreement is related to the production of the ASTRI Mini-Array control software. Massimo Turatto, INAF researcher and now Italian scientific attaché in Chile, and various Chilean colleagues including Juan Yuz, Rector of the University were present. Other colleagues, including ASTRI Principal Investigator, Giovanni Pareschi, and ASTRI Project Manager Salvatore Scuderi, were connected remotely.

The agreement expands the international partnership of the ASTRI project, which is now in the executive phase, with the first telescope mounted in Tenerife and two others to be delivered in the coming months. Furthermore, the other six telescopes and the detection chambers are now in production. This is therefore the time to prepare the control system of the various telescopes, at the center of which is the control software. Particular standards, based on the Alma Common Software (ACS) IT infrastructure, developed precisely for the management of arrays of telescopes such as in ALMA, have to be followed.

As pointed out by Mauricio Araya, of the Astroinformatics section at the UTFSM and Director of the project for the control software of ASTRI, the Chilean group has a solid specific know-how in the field of control systems for astronomical projects in the ACS environment. In this field, UTFSM has twenty years of experience in Chile, with a legacy of successes including involvement in international projects, such as those led by ESO (European Southern Observatory), or by AUI (Associated Universities, Inc., USA, who manages the American share of ALMA). “The ASTRI project”, adds Araya, “is not in Chile, and therefore if we have been called to this task it is not because we are nearby, but because we know the system that ASTRI will have to use”.

“Working with ASTRI will open a new window because there is a need and the will to do it. But this is only the beginning of a new collaboration between our countries that we hope will last”, says Turatto.

The goals of the ASTRI control software

ASTRI – Mini-Array is now connected to the world!

Caption: Salvatore Scuderi, Alessandro Tacchini, Giuseppe Malaspina, Marcello Lodi, Fulvio Gianotti, Christine Grivel with the monolith m-ICT connected to the world. (Credits: Giuseppe Malaspina)

May 2022 –

This last April, in Izana in Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain), at the astronomical site of the Teide Observatory, an important result was achieved towards the installation of the ASTRI Mini-Array. Thanks to a coordinated effort of personnel from INAF, the Fundacion Galileo Galilei, the Temis / CNRS Observatory and with the support of IAC (Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias), the m-ICT was born. The m-ICT is the mini Information and Communication Technology infrastructure necessary for the management of ASTRI during the first stages of installation.

In fact, every observing facility needs IT support both for operating the instruments on site and to handle the remote connections. This result was also achieved with the precious collaboration of local firms.

The joint effort made it possible to move from the initial paper sketches to a well-coded project and, finally, to this small, somewhat noisy monolith that is the m-ICT.

The m-ICT consists of various parts: the control system of the telescopes, the data acquisition system, which also allows the temporary storage of the acquired data, the monitoring of both the acquisition process and the status of the telescopes, the network that connects the telescopes to the site but also the connection with the outside world via Internet, and finally the temporal characterization system of the data which must assign a label to each datum with the precise indication of the instant of acquisition.

As Fulvio Gianotti, ICT manager for ASTRI on-site recalls: “m-ICT represents a temporary system in a reduced version, suitable for supporting the first phases of the program and in particular the installation of the first 3 telescopes before the final ICT is ready.” The m-ICT was installed in the premises of the CNRS Themis Solar Observatory, also intended to house the control room of ASTRI.

For technical experts, the system operation diagram is described in this figure:

Lo schema dei collegamenti del m-ICT

The existence of this small data center has already made it possible to create the first network connection of what will be the public network of ASTRI: With this it will be possible to remotely control the observatory through sophisticated interfaces and transfer data to Italy. For the more curious of you, it is possible to connect to the network at the address: For now, m-ICT will answer you by presenting some slides that tell about its birth!

Con la collaborazione di Fulvio Gianotti

ASTRI is an INAF gamma-ray experiment with the collaboration of other international institutions (P.I. G. Pareschi) with the aim of observing the gamma ray sky from a few to hundreds of TeV by building a Mini-Array of 9 telescopes in Tenerife (Canarie, Spain – thanks to the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canaria, IAC hospitality). The Mini-Array telescopes are similar to those that will be constructed for the CTA project in the south.

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ASTRI Mini-Array and CTA: four hundred new “tiles” from Media Lario

Fotografia di uno specchio con alcuni dei protagonisti di ASTRI Mini-Array

In the image above: a completed mirror with some team people: from left to right, Giovanni Pareschi (ASTRI Mini-Array Project PI), Salvatore Scuderi (Program Manager) and Nicola La palombara (Product Assurance Manager). Credit: Inaf Brera.
Image information: shooted with a Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod and Arca-Swiss d4 geared pan FlipLock head, UV filter.
Lighting: two LED Walimex PRO Nova 900 Plus Daylight panels.

February 2022 – Under a contract awarded by the INAF Astronomical Observatory of Brera, Media Lario has completed the production of the first block of mirrors for the ASTRI Mini-Array telescopes and for the medium-sized telescopes of the Cherenkov Telescope Array.

Of the four hundred hexagonal panels, two hundred will be used to construct the large primary mirrors of the nine ASTRI Mini-Array telescopes, the gamma-ray astronomy facility under construction at the Teide Observatory (Tenerife) in the Canary Islands.

The other two hundred will form the reflecting surface of two of the nine medium-sized telescopes (Medium Size Telescopes, MSTs) of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (Cta), which will be installed at the La Palma Observatory, the Northern site of CTA, also in the Canary Islands.

The production of the hexagonal mirrors is described in an article published today in the Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and System.

With the delivery of the segments and the next installation on the respective telescopes, the National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) adds another important “tile” to the construction of the future large arrays of Cherenkov telescopes for the very high energies.

«The technology of making Cherenkov mirrors based on cold glass replica was developed in 2006 thanks to the very close and fruitful collaboration between researchers and technicians from INAF and Media Lario and has now become the reference technology for CTA» underlines Giovanni Pareschi, Principal Investigator of the ASTRI Mini-Array project. «With this activity we have shown how the production can be industrialized while at the same time maintaining the quality high. This is a great success of the Italian technical and scientific community».

A mirror in the laboratory

The laboratory with one of the hexagonal panel just completed.

Scientific article:Mirror production for the Cherenkov telescopes of the ASTRI mini-array and the MST project for the Cherenkov Telescope Array” by Nicola La Palombara, Giorgia Sironi, Enrico Giro, Salvatore Scuderi, Rodolfo Canestrari, Simone Iovenitti, Markus Garczarczyk, Maria Krause, Sebastian Diebold, Rachele Millul, Fabio Marioni, Nadia Missaglia, Matteo Redaelli, Giuseppe Valsecchi, Fabio Zocchi, Adelfio Zanoni and Giovanni Pareschi, Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems, 2022.

Article on MediaINAF: Quattrocento specchi per Astri e Cta

ASTRI is a INAF gamma ray experiment with the collaboration of other international institutions (P.I. G. Pareschi) with the aim of observing the gamma ray sky from a few to hundreds of Tev by building a Mini-Array of 9 telescopes in Tenerife (Canarie, Spain – thanks to the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canaria, IAC hospitality). The Mini-Array telescopes are similar to those that will be constructed for the CTA project in the south.

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In collaboration with Giuseppe Fiasconaro.

This post is also available in: Italian