Cosylab worked on two projects for ESO.

Continuous development and maintenance of ACS for ESO (for the ALMA project)

Cosylab did continuous development of the ACS product. ACS (Advanced Control System) is a framework for building complex control systems with data servers, process logic and management services. It uses and extends distributed computing and object-oriented concepts, significantly reduces developing and testing time and increases reliability and maintainability. Provided users adhere to some rules in the form of programming patterns, ACS allows for the definition of custom types of controlled data and custom models of communication, while using the powerful ACS support libraries. Like Abeans, ACS hides all details of the underlying mechanisms, which use many complex features of CORBA, queuing, asynchronous communication, thread pooling, life-cycle management, etc. The powerful remote management centralizes access to CORBA services and distributed objects, manages their full life-cycle including persistent store, supervises the state of the system, provides access to the configuration database, channels event logging, error handling, alarm reporting and similar. ACS can run on many platforms and operating systems. The code compiles with standard GNU cpp, including the sources of the CORBA implementation, TAO, which is one of the fastest available.

ACS is currently supported on MS Windows TM, Linux and VxWorksTM. The ACS product was developed in collaboration with National Radio Astronomy Observatory (USA), Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste (Italy) and the Center for Radio Astronomy at the University of Calgary (Canada).

E-ELT Development and Consulting for ESO

Due to the large investment required to develop a control system infrastructure, ESO would like to re-use existing infrastructure for ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array) also for its next large project, E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope), which is a 42-meter optical telescope. Since the ALMA infrastructure development started in 2000, there was a need to incorporate new technologies to benefit from the general technological development (productivity, availability of skilled engineers due to technologies being more current, performance improvements, etc).

For this contract, Cosylab evaluated possible approaches to integrate National Instruments’ (NI) LabVIEW into the ALMA Common Software (ACS) control system infrastructure, which is used at ESO for the ALMA project. Cosylab compared several options, and recommended that the best way to achieve integration is to establish TCP/IP channels between LabVIEW and ACS processes. Cosylab also provided C, Java and LabVIEW libraries to facilitate such communication over TCP/IP.