Design of a testbed for the calibration and RFI mitigation algorithms used in OLFAR

Brethouwer, M.F. (2015) Design of a testbed for the calibration and RFI mitigation algorithms used in OLFAR.

Abstract:The Universe has been observed for thousands of years. However, radio astronomy at low frequencies has only recently become a major research topic. Radio astronomy at frequencies below 30 MHz is expected to shed more light on the so called `Dark Ages'. This is a period in the history of the Universe when it was opaque for visible light. A new type of radio telescope will be built in space to perform these observations. This telescope will be called OLFAR (Orbiting Low Frequency Antennas for Radio Astronomy), and will consist of tens of small satellites which will be working together. This telescope cannot be built on Earth, because the ionosphere will distort or block these low-frequency signals. In addition, a lot of man-made interference is present on earth. For OLFAR, new software algorithms for calibration and interference mitigation will be developed. The verification of these algorithms requires a testbed which imitates the hardware of OLFAR. The design of this testbed is presented in this thesis. The testbed is split into five components: an astronomical source simulator, the observational antennas, the receivers, the required software for operation of the testbed, and the physical construction. For the first four components, the specifications are presented and the design is developed and verified. For the physical construction of the testbed, some useful insights for future work are presented. The designed testbed is flexible and can easily be reconfigured to the needs of the measurements. Only a slight modification to the firmware of the receivers still has to be incorporated, whereupon the testbed will satisfy all requirements to adequately imitate the hardware of OLFAR. Incorporating this modification and fabricating the testbed is left for future work.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:EEMCS: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science
Subject:39 astronomy, 53 electrotechnology
Programme:Electrical Engineering MSc (60353)
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