AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 103. Instrumentation for Radio Wavelengths
Display, Wednesday, January 9, 2002, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[103.04] 21-cm Observations with the NASA ADAS 18-meter Antenna System: Baseline Astronomical Observations and Measurements of Performance Characteristics\\

B.K. Malphrus, M.S. Combs (Morehead State University), J. Kruth (K-MEC)

Herein we report astronomical observations made with the NASA Advanced Data Acquisition System (ADAS). The NASA ADAS antenna, located at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Centerís Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, is an 18-meter X-band antenna system that has been primarily used for satellite tracking and served as the telecommunication station for the NASA IUE satellite until ca. 1997. A joint NASA-Morehead State University (MSU)-Kentucky NSF EPSCoR venture has been initiated to upgrade and relocate the antenna system to MSUís Astrophysics Laboratory where it will provide a research instrument and active laboratory for undergraduate students as well as be engaged in satellite tracking missions. As part of the relocation efforts, many systems will be upgraded including replacement of a hydrostatic azimuth bearing with a high-precision electromechanical bearing, a new servo system, and Ku-capable reflector surface. It is widely believed that there are still contributions that small aperture centimeter-wave instruments can make utilizing three primary observing strategies: 1.) longitudinal studies of RF variations in cosmic phenomena, 2.) surveys of large areas of sky, and 3.) fast reactions to transient phenomena. MSU faculty and staff along with NASA engineers re-outfitted the ADAS system with RF systems and upgraded servo controllers during the spring and summer of 2001. Empirical measurements of primary system performance characteristics were made including G/T (at S- and L bands), noise figures, pointing and tracking accuracies, and drive speeds and accelerations. Baseline astronomical observations were made with the MSU L-band receiver using a 6 MHz bandwidth centered at 1420 MHz (21-cm) and observing over a range of frequencies (up to 2.5 MHz, tunable over the 6 MHz window) with a 2048-channel back-end spectrometer, providing up to 1 KHz frequency resolution. Baseline observations of radio sources herein reported include Cygnus A, 3C 157, 3C 48 and the Andromeda Galaxy. After its transition to Morehead State University (which is expected to be completed in 2004), the 18-meter will be available for use by students and faculty from all U.S. institutions for astronomical observations. Transitioning of the 18-meter antenna is made possible by NASA, and the Kentucky NSF EPSCoR program and by grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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