DSS-28: a novel wide bandwidth radio telescope devoted to educational outreach
We have recently equipped the 34-meter DSS-28 radio telescope at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex with a novel wide bandwidth radiometer and digital signal processor as part of the Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope (GAVRT) educational outreach program operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Lewis Center for Educational Research. The system employs a cryogenically cooled wide bandwidth quad-ridge feed and InP low noise amplifiers to achieve excellent noise performance from 2.7 to 14 GHz; a fractional bandwidth better than 4:1. Four independently tunable dual-polarization receivers each down-convert a 2 GHz block to baseband, providing access to 8 GHz of instantaneous bandwidth. A flexible FPGA-based signal processor has been constructed using CASPER FPGA hardware and tools to take advantage of this enormous bandwidth. This system demonstrates many of the enabling wide bandwidth technologies that will be crucial to maximizing the utility of future large centimeter-wavelength arrays, in particular the Square Kilometer Array. The GAVRT program has previously used narrow bandwidth total power radiometers to study flux variability of quasars and the outer planets. The versatility of DSS-28 will enable other projects including spectroscopy and SETI. Finally, the wide instantaneous bandwidth available makes this system uniquely suited for studying transient radio pulses. A configuration of the digital signal processor has been developed which provides the capability of recording a burst of raw baseband voltage data triggered by a real-time incoherent dedispersion system which is very sensitive to pulses from a known source, such as the Crab Nebula pulsar.
Additional Information© 2010 SPIE The International Society for Optical Engineering. The authors would like to thank Xilinx, Inc. for their generous donation of FPGAs and software tools which were crucial to the development of the digital signal processor. The Crab gamma-ray/radio giant pulse study is partially supported by NASA through a grant from the Fermi Space Telescope guest observer program.
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