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Abstracts of Presentations


Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)
Abstracts of Presentations
August 09, 2012


Design of a Stream Based Software Radar Architecture
Poster (PDF)
Karl Cronburg, Bucknell University


Software Radar systems are crucial to the collection and analysis of data from instruments such as the Millstone Hill Incoherent Scatter Radar and the ISIS Array. The existing software radar systems used by these instruments are tightly coupled to their computing infrastructure and relatively inflexible in their configuration. Modern software infrastructure for distributed messaging, serialization, and elastic computing can be exploited to enable a more flexible and scalable approach. Radar instruments can stream data onto shared processing networks which scale their response by employing additional computers on demand. Clean boundaries are created using a simple interface definition language using YAML (yet another markup language) which allow for automated serialization and transport of software radar data, metadata, and control information. These definitions may be used directly from revision control and are used to dynamically generate software object definitions. A modern and 'broker-less' messaging infrastructure (ZeroMQ) is used to provide a range of messaging models (publish-subscribe, request-reply, etc) for object transport. Automated serialization of objects is supported using YAML, MessagePack, and HDF5 with optional compression using gzip. The application of these components is discussed in terms of a prototype focused on passive radar signal processing. The structure of this distributed signal processing application illustrates the use of many of the capabilities of the new architectural approach and components.


Development of a New Generation Small Radio Telescope (SRT)
Presentation (PDF)
Dustin Johnson, Dalhousie University


The original Small Radio Telescope (SRT) developed at Haystack Observatory is no longer in production and has become obsolete due to technological advances. We describe the design of the new SRT, its capabilities, and improvements made over the old. Several radio frequency interference (RFI) problems were encountered and addressed. Astronomical observations were taken to examine the performance of the new SRT. Some software was developed for the new SRT and thorough documentation and instructions on its assembly were prepared.


Development of a Pattern Simulator for Benchmarking a Near-field Holographic Image Processor
Poster (PDF)
Kathryn Martin, North Georgia College & State University


Deformations of the reflector optics comprising a radio telescope can introduce station position errors that are significant in the context of VLBI2010. Radio holographic imaging is a technique that can be utilized to detect such deformations. In experiments involving large reflector antennas at relatively high frequencies, geosynchronous satellites are observed to conduct far-field radio holography since the stand-off ranges satisfy the far-field requirement. However, these sources are relatively fixed with respect to the radio telescope and this limitation does not facilitate the ability to characterize the deformations over the telescope's full field-of-view. The near-field holographic imaging technique overcomes this limitation of the satellite-based far-field technique since the source is under the control of the observer and may be placed in close proximity to the radio telescope in question. Additional complexities arise in this near-field scenario but these considerations have been addressed in the literature. In this report, a near-field antenna pattern simulator was developed to facilitate testing of a near-field holographic image processor. The results of this simulator have been compared against independent expectations to validate the simulator.


Low Cost GPS Synchronization for Distributed Instrument Arrays
Presentation (PDF)
Gavin McCauley, Univeristy of Massachusetts, Boston


Distributed instrument systems require a long-term, stabilized clock signal. Achieving such a signal often requires expensive tools, but now the coherence module at MIT Haystack aims to significantly lower that cost by using GPS synchronizing and a newly developed Analog Devices chip for generating such clock signals. The coherence module's clock signal has been compared to an existing commercial solution's, including an application of the Intercepted Signals for Ionospheric Sciences (ISIS) arrays at MIT Haystack and Dartmouth.


Advanced Digital Receiver for Distributed Instrument Arrays
Presentation (PDF)
Patrick Smith, Unversity of Florida


Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are emerging as an appealing option in modern software digital receiver design. Recent advances in FPGA technology has resulted in powerful, reconfigurable instruments at lower costs than previously available. This enables the development of more ideal and cost-efficient software defined radios. Additionally, modern design software provides users a simpler method of programming the FPGA while allowing for more reconfigurability than ever before. We developed a tool that facilitates communication between the FPGA and a temperature sensor on the analog-to-digital converter through the FMC port using the I2C protocol. The data is then sent to the central computer via the JTAG port for analysis. We will describe the design and discuss its implementation using the Virtex 6 ML605 platform and the 4DSP FMC104 analog-to-digital converter. We will follow by briefly mentioning some of the problems encountered and conclude with a discussion about future research to expand on our findings.


Characterizing Planetary Wave Signature in the Ionosphere
Presentation (PDF)
Jonathan Wurtz, Unversity of New Hampshire


Planetary waves are large-scale structures in the upper atmosphere that encompass the entire earth. In this project, a large data set of TEC (Total Electron Content) values derived from a global network of differential GPS receivers was used to investigate planetary wave signatures and geophysical drivers through various methods. Several types of derived data sets were developed, along with easy-to-use tools to manipulate and analyze the data. This report will outline the work done with developing those data sets and tools, with an emphasis on showcasing some of the results obtained.


Imaging Mira's Masers
Presentation (PDF)
Rachel Zizza, Wellesley College


Simultaneous observations of Mira's SiO (43 GHz), H2O (22 GHz), and OH (1665 MHz) masing regions were made for six epochs (2004-2005) with the VLA. The data were then imaged to provide information on the maser activity in the form of channel maps, total intensity (moment) maps, spot maps, and spectral line profiles. SiO and H2O masers were detected at every epoch, although the OH maser was not seen at all. Spot maps of the SiO masing region show a small area of maser features moving away from the star at about 21 km/s- a high proper motion feature which may be the result of outflow from Mira. In addition, SiO and H2O moment 0 maps from the same epoch were combined into one overlay map of their relative position and sizes. This is the first simultaneous imaging of the SiO and H2O masers that has ever been produced. From this map, the SiO masing region was found to be about 7.5 AU in diameter, and the H2O masing region 21.4 AU in diameter. The H2O maser emission also reached a maximum flux density of ~12.5 Jy, which is more than twice the 5 Jy maxima reported in other independent observations of Mira. This talk presents results that confirm previously reported characteristics of Mira's maser emission, as well as provide valuable information for the constraint of maser emission models in evolved stars.




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