HERSCHEL/PACS - The Austrian Participation in the ESA-Cornerstone Mission HERSCHEL: On-board Data Reduction and Compression

The Herschel Space Observatory (formerly know as FIRST, theFar Infra-Red Space Telescope), a cornerstone of ESA's Space Horizon 2000 programme, will for the first time facilitate the investigation of the far infrared and submillimetre radio regime of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is not accessible from the ground. In this wavelength range the primary research goals will be in the fields of stellar evolution, development of planetary systems, interstellar matter and the origin of galaxies.

Short Description

Austria participates in the development of PACS (Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer), one of the three HERSCHEL instruments, with sophisticated on-board software for HERSCHEL/PACS, as well as in the Instrument Control Centre.

Univ.Prof.Dr. Franz Kerschbaum represents the Institute for Astronomy of the University of Vienna as co-investigator in the PACS instrument consortium. PACS is designed to perform on-board data reduction in order to overcome the limitations of ground contact and telemetry.

The tuneable reduction steps range from simple data rejection by various criteria to ramp fitting and integration. A set of algorithms for backend lossless compression and dedicated data has been developed with special emphasis on the high detector readout rate and possible transient effects within the processed data.

Since the first integration of the software into the target hardware (an integrated and radiation tolerant digital signal processor based on the TSC21020E architecture) mid-2002 and the acceptance and delivery of the software to the consortium in spring 2003, a whole lot of tests in all diversity have been conducted and the software has been improved to respond to the evolution of the detectors. This process of iteration has not been finished yet. The FM will be delivered to ESA in early 2006.

Project Partners


Institut für Astronomie - Franz Kerschbaum


  • PRIP - TU Vienna
  • Joanneum Research - Graz
  • MPE - Garching, Germany
  • ESA

Contact Address

Institut für Astronomie
Franz Kerschbaum
Türkenschanzstr. 17
A-1180 Vienna
E-mail: kerschbaum@astro.univie.ac.at
Web: www.astro.univie.ac.at