Western Conference Abstracts

We now have the presentation abstracts for the Western Conference to be held 20-21 March, 2010 at Stanford University. Thanks to David Westman, we have some really great speakers and topics scheduled. There is still time to register, just go here for details http://www.radio-astronomy.org/?q=node/134. 2010 SARA Western Conference Stanford University, California Presentation Abstracts Application of the UK RAA Very Low Frequency Receiver System Whitham D. Reeve Abstract: Members of the UK Radio Astronomy Association have been working on a VLF receiver system prototype design since 2006 and UK RAA now sells it in kit and built form. The system consists of three major components: VLF receiver, 0.4 m square loop antenna, and antenna tuning unit. A signal generator also is available for testing and tuning the receiver. This paper discusses: 1) Receiver system architecture and characteristics; 2) Kit construction details; and 3) Performance in my observatory in Anchorage, Alaska USA. Elements of Phased Array Interferometry David Westman Abstract: The basic idea of a phased array is the combination of signals from different array elements so that they reinforce each other, by shifting the peaks of the signal waveform to be in phase with each other. Different methods for doing this are explained and examples are given. A brief overview of data reduction for phased array data is given, and some information about major and projected future observatories worldwide, with photos. Update on the Moby Dish Project David Fields, Aaron Haun and Forest Erickson The optimal radio astronomy antenna is defined by the physical system being monitored. An astronomer’s choice of which antenna design might actually be built and used determines how successful will be his research. Based on initial choices, various frequency, resolution, capture area, and budget constraints can conspire to dash hopes and frustrate dreams. A personal choice for an ongoing project that considered these constraints was to salvage and significantly upgrade an abandoned 4.5 m C-band dish that would be, because of its gain and stability, useful for a variety of research and educational projects. The ensuing adventure was more involved than expected -- it included disassembly, transport, extensive modification to permit Alt/El agility, and erection, plus development of control and monitoring electronics. Local flora and fauna provided their own challenges and insults. Nevertheless, significant progress has been made and initial results of the project will be presented. Research on Structure and Dynamics of Spiral Galaxies Bruce Rout Abstract: The following three papers; The Spiral Structure of NGC 3198, A Comparison of Distance Measurements to NGC 4258 and Distance, Rotational Velocities, Red Shift, Mass, Length and Angular Momentum of 111 Spiral Galaxies in the Southern Hemisphere, challenges the existence of dark matter, establishes a straight-forward method of measuring the distance to spiral galaxies and presents an accurate Hubble diagram of galaxies in the Southern Hemisphere which seriously questions the theory of an expanding universe. The SARA Grant and Mentor Program William and Melinda Lord Abstract: The SARA grant program and the mentor program go hand-in-hand. Hear about what has been happening with grants this year and find out how you can get involved and promote radio astronomy in the classroom. The SuperSID Upgraded Space Weather Monitoring Instrument Tim Huynh Abstract: Engineers at Stanford's Solar Center have developed inexpensive space weather monitors that high school students can install and use at their local sites. The instruments detect changes to the Earth's ionosphere caused by solar flares. Through the United Nations Heliophysical Year and the follow-on Space Weather Initiative, over 300 of these monitors have been distributed worldwide. The monitors track changes in VLF radio transmissions as they bounce off Earth's ionosphere. Signal strength of these VLF waves changes as the Sun affects Earth's ionosphere, adds ionization, and thus alters where the waves bounce. An enhanced version of the SID monitor, "SuperSID", has just been released and is being distributed in collaboration between SARA and the Solar Center. This talk will give a technical overview of the new SuperSID instrument. Related online resources: http://solar-center.stanford.edu/SID/ http://sid.stanford.edu/database-browser/ The SID & AWESOME Space Weather Monitoring Programs Deborah Scherrer, et al. Authors: Deborah Scherrer, Tim Huynh, Stanford Solar Center; Morris Cohen, Naoshin Haque, Ben Cotts, Umran Inan, Stanford EE Department Abstract: Stanford's Solar Center, in conjunction with the Electrical Engineering Department's Very Low Frequency group and local educators, have developed inexpensive space weather monitors that high school students and university researchers can install and use at their local sites. The instruments detect changes to the Earth's ionosphere caused by solar flares, lightning, and other disturbances. The monitors track changes in VLF radio transmissions as they bounce off Earth's ionosphere. During daylight hours, signal strength of these VLF waves changes as the Sun affects Earth's ionosphere, adds ionization, and thus alters where the waves bounce. During nighttime, lightning and lightning-induced activity dramatically affect ionization and hence the transmission of the VLF waves. Two versions of the monitors exist: * SID (and SuperSID) - a simple and low-cost monitor designed for placement in high schools; primarily tracks daytime solar data * "AWESOME" - a more sensitive, research-quality monitor for universities; designed to track lightning events during nighttime Both instruments have been a participating project of the United Nations International Heliophysical Year and the follow-on International Space Weather Initiative. Over 300 SIDs and 25 AWESOMEs have already been placed around the world. An enhanced version of the SID monitor, "SuperSID", has just been released and is being distributed in collaboration between SARA and the Solar Center. This talk will give an overview of the projects and provide a general (non-technical) understanding of both SID and AWESOME capabilities. It will also cover how and why the instruments were developed, a description of the various distributions and placements, results of assessment of accompanying educational materials, and details about the SARA/Solar Center collaboration. Related online resources: http://solar-center.stanford.edu/SID/ http://sid.stanford.edu/database-browser/ http://www-star.stanford.edu/awesome http://solar-center.stanford.edu/SID/AWESOME/ http://solar-center.stanford.edu/ http://www.radio-astronomy.org/ http://www.tnskynet.com/SID-VLF.php`s http://www.tnskynet.com/What_s_New.html http://www.flickr.com/photos/tnskynet/sets/72157622496904376/ The Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) Instrument onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Philip H. Scherrer, Stanford University, PI for HMI/SDO Abstract: NASA's new solar mission, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is scheduled for launch in early February. Stanford's Solar Observatories Group is responsible for one of the primary instruments on SDO -- the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI). Although not directly related to radio astronomy, this talk will cover the goals of this solar investigation, the instrument, mission, and science objectives. The presentation could be especially timely since SDO should have been launched about a month before the SARA conference and receiving of data may have just begun. The primary goal of SDO and particularly HMI is to study the origin of solar variability and to characterize and understand the Sun's interior and the various sources of magnetic activity. HMI takes measurements of the motion of the solar photosphere to study solar oscillations and measurements of the polarization in a specific spectral line to study the photospheric magnetic field. HMI produces data to determine the interior sources and mechanisms of solar variability and how the physical processes inside the Sun are related to surface magnetic field and activity. It also produces data to enable estimates of the coronal magnetic field for studies of variability in the extended solar atmosphere. HMI observations should enable establishing relationships between the internal dynamics and magnetic activity of the Sun to better understand solar variability and its effects, leading to reliable predictive capability, one of the key elements of NASA's Living With a Star (LWS) program. Related online resources: http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/ http://hmi.stanford.edu/ http://lws.gsfc.nasa.gov/ http://solar-center.stanford.edu/ (solar educational website) ELF/VLF remote sensing research on lightning, the ionosphere, and the magnetosphere M. B. Cohen, B. Cotts, N. Haque, and U. S. Inan M. B. Cohen, B. Cotts, N. Haque, and U. S. Inan: Abstract: The study of radio waves of ELF/VLF frequencies (300 Hz - 30 kHz) has long proven fruitful in remotely sensing lightning discharges, the ionosphere and magnetosphere. Because ELF/VLF waves large reflect in the D region of the ionosphere (60-90 km), and off the ground, they propagate efficiently in the Earth-ionosphere waveguide. Lightning is the dominant source of ELF/VLF waves on Earth, with impulsive signatures known as radio atmospherics that can be detected at global distances due to efficient propagation in the Earth-ionosphere waveguide. Sferics are effectively a "fingerprint" of the lightning stroke, convolved with the effects of the subionospheric propagation. There are, in addition, a number of VLF transmitter beacons for the purpose of submarine communications, which, since they rely on subionospheric propagation, are inherently a continuous diagnostic of the D region, which is difficult to study by other means since it is too low for satellites, yet too high for balloons. The D region is disturbed by lightning, solar flares, electron precipitation, earthquakes, gamma-ray bursts, and other phenomenon. ELF/VLF waves also play an important role in radiation belt dynamics due to interactions between ELF/VLF waves and energetic electrons. Update on Project BAMBI: A 4 GHz SETI-Capable Radio Telescope Bob Lash Abstract: An overview of the design, observations, current status, and future plans for our 4 GHz SETI-capable amateur radio telescope is presented in this update from Project BAMBI (Bob and Mike’s Big Investment). The possible expansion of the SETI portion of the project by means of a BAMBI@home strategy is also discussed. An Integrated, all-mode RA/SETI receiver based on Gnu Radio and USRP Marcus Leech, VE3MDL, Science Radio Laboratories, mleech@ripnet.com ABSTRACT Continuing advances in off-the-shelf computing capacity and performance, along with dramatically increased functionality in the Gnu Radio SDR platform have afforded a new approach to SDR-based receiver design for the amateur RA and SETI observer. We show an SDR-based receiver that allows simultaneous observing in a number of important RA and SETI modes, including Continuum, Spectral, SETI, Pulsar, and transient detection modes. By making a fully-integrated receiver with a consistent user-interface, the amateur observer can perform multiple observation types simultaneously. Radio Astronomy – Welcome to New SARA Members David E. Fields, Tamke-Allan Observatory, Roane State Community College ABSTRACT Astronomy a fascinating subject to explore and enjoy. It can also be appreciated as a gateway to the physical sciences. Astronomy can compared to a tree, with its roots in history and culture; its trunk representing the flow of ideas, information and technology; and its leaves and branches responding spatially to light and information. The tree of Astronomy fuels our personal and cultural growth. Many of the recent discoveries in astronomical science have been made through radio astronomy, chiefly because radio telescope resolution and sensitivity usually exceed that of optical telescopes of a comparable cost. To develop our science, we observe and interpret the universe using the full spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, and this is an activity to which both professionals and amateurs can contribute. Amateurs have certain advantages over their professional colleagues, in that they choose their activities based on their own interests and abilities. The geographical distribution and dedication of an amateur group permits building an observing program that is far stronger than any single individual effort. This presentation presents an overview of amateur radio astronomy. Amateur radio astronomers comprise the SARA organization, and SARA members observe and share data using a wide range of tools. These tools will be discussed, with emphasis on some of the possible entry points and some projects that SARA members enjoy. Both newcomers and long-time SARA members are invited, and we’ll begin with introductions. A short overview lecture will be followed by a question and answer/discussion session.