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Session 11 - VLBI & Radio Instrumentation.
Display session, Wednesday, January 07
Exhibit Hall,

[11.01] Radio Frequency Interference: Radio Astronomy's Biggest Enemy

F. Acevedo (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical U.), T. Ghosh (NAIC)

As technology progresses, the demand for the usage of the electromagnetic spectrum increases with it. The development is so fast and prolific that clean band space for passive users such as Radio Astronomy is becoming ever so scarce. Even though, several spectral bands have been protected for Radio Astronomy by Federal Communication Commission (in the USA) under the recommendations of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), pressure for making more spectral space commercially usable is extreme. Although these commercial usages make our modern living at all possible, often the extreme vulnerability of passive users are are not fully appreciated, resulting in unwanted emissions (RFI) in the Radio Astronomy Bands.

Another source of RFI is the fact that many of the electronic devices used in the observatories themselves generate radio waves. If proper precautions are not taken, these can be received back through the Radio Telescope itself. This problem is referred to as internal RFI. The focus of this paper is the search and diminution of internal RFI in the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Using a simple setup of a log-periodic antenna and a Spectrum Analyzer, spectra spanning a frequency range of 100 - 1800 MHZ were recorded in some areas of the Observatory and the new Visitor Center (AOVEF). The measurements disclosed sources of radio emission among some of the digital electronic equipment in the Equipment room and a few displays in the AOVEF. Most prominent of these was a 2.5 MHz comb spanning the entire range of the measurements emitted from the SRENDIP and AOFTM machines. The respective groups were informed and corrective shielding amp; isolations were implemented immediately. In AOVEF, three displays, some audio-visual equipment, and video/digital cameras used by the visitors were found to be "leaky". In future, the use of such cameras will be prohibited and the exhibits will be screened appropriately.

Program listing for Wednesday